Introduction to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 – Part 1
Background and Purpose
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offenses of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography. It emphasizes the child’s dignity and safeguards the child’s interests at every stage of the judicial process.
Definition of a Child under the Act
The POCSO Act, under Section 2(d) defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years. This definition aligns with the universal standards set by international conventions.
Preamble and Constitutional Reference
The Preamble recognizes that the best interest of a child should be secured, a child is defined under Section 2(d) as any person below the age of 18 years. In fact, securing the best interest of the child is an obligation cast upon the Government of India having acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the CRC). The Preamble to the POCSO Act recognizes the need for the law to operate in the best interest of the child, ensuring their healthy physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development.
Preamble of the POCSO Act, 2012
“An Act to protect children from offenses of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for the establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offenses and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
The Act was enacted with reference to Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India, which empowers the State to make special provisions for children.
Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India
“Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.”
International Obligations (POCSO Act)
India’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) further strengthens the legal framework. The Act aligns with the CRC’s principles, ensuring the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development of the child. The Preamble to the POCSO Act also recognizes that it is imperative that the law should operate “in a manner that the best interest and well-being of the child are regarded as being of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy, physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child”.”
Article 34 of the CRC
“States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, is a landmark legislation that embodies India’s commitment to safeguarding children’s rights and welfare. By aligning with constitutional provisions and international obligations, the Act provides a comprehensive legal framework to address and punish sexual offenses against children.
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
- Section 2(d): Definition of a child
- Preamble: Purpose and principles
- Constitution of India
- Article 15(3): Special provision for children
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Article 34: Protection from sexual exploitation and abuse
This article provides an in-depth introduction to the POCSO Act, 2012, highlighting its key aspects, alignment with the Constitution, and adherence to international standards. It serves as a foundational piece for understanding the Act’s significance in the legal landscape of child protection in India.