Minister for women and child development Krishna Tirath on Friday asked the states to implement the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 and designate special courts in each district for taking up cases.
Chairing the meeting of the consultative committee of Parliament here, the minister said she has written to all the states for necessary action to be taken at their end. The HRD Ministry is being approached to include age appropriate information on the issue in school curriculum, she added.
"Training of police functionaries at all levels and those of the judiciary and central and state governments is crucial for effective implementation of the Act," Tirath said.
The states are responsible for designation of Sessions Court in each district as Special Court under the Act, along with appointment of Special Public Prosecutor, establishment of special Juvenile police Units, Child Welfare Committees and District Child Protection Units.
Formulation of schemes for payment of compensation to the child victims is also responsibility of the state governments, she added.
Stating that the increased number of sexual offences against children in the country necessitated the Act which came into force on November 14, 2012 with notification of its rules, she said, the existing laws such as the IPC were insufficient to deal with the specific requirements regarding children as they do not distinguish between an adult and a child victim.
Moreover, these laws are not gender neutral and the definition of ‘rape’ is also restrictive. The new Act, Tirath said, is gender neutral and covers all persons below the age of 18 years of age and clear definition and description of offences have been provided.
The Minister stated that the Act will be effective only with proper implementation for which spreading awareness about the various features and provisions of the Act becomes extremely crucial. She also mentioned that the states have a very important role to play in the implementation of the Act.
The members, while lauding the Act, stated that various organisations within the civil society and the NGOs working in this field be roped in to spread awareness about the Act.
They said it needs to be ensured that provisions of the Act be not misused to settle scores or to victimise people and said proper training of functionaries associated with implementation of the Act should assume top priority.