September 7, 2007

DNA dt.Sept 7th, 2007
Renuka, law ministry tussle over child rights bill

What’s new ??

Child abuse cases at present come under the laws on rape (Section 375 of the IPC), sexual molestation (Section 354) and sodomy (Section 377)
But the proposed law has provisions in addition to the legislations in the IPC and the Juvenile Justice Act
It has specific sections dealing with offences against children, including sale/transfer, sexual assault, sexual/physical/child pornography, which have not been covered under the IPC
Offences such as girl child trafficking not covered under any other law have been introduced.

The Union law ministry is treading carefully on Bills from the Woman and Child Development (WCD) ministry after its Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, came under criticism from the Supreme Court.

The law ministry has returned the proposed Offences Against Children (Prevention) Bill 2005 to the WCD Ministry saying it cannot be passed in its present form as many of its provisions exist under various sections of the IPC. The law ministry asked the WCD to amend the IPC if it felt certain issued had not been addressed.

However, WCD Minister Renuka Choudhury is not willing to buy this argument and is determined to pursue the proposed law. She has now constituted a team of experts to rework on the Bill.

Child abuse cases at present come under the laws on rape (Section 375 of the IPC), sexual molestation (Section 354) and sodomy (Section 377). However, in the absence of a clear definition of sexual abuse, children are largely at the mercy of legal discretion, feels the WCD ministry.

According to the ministry, the new law will have provisions in addition to other legislations within the IPC and the Juvenile Justice Act because these laws do not separately cover people who commit crime against children.

According to an official from the WCD ministry, the proposed law has specific sections dealing with various offences against children, including sale/transfer, sexual assault, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, child pornography, grooming for sexual purposes, which have not been covered under the IPC

Offences such as girl child neglect and trafficking which have not been covered under any law have been brought under the purview of the proposed law.

The proposed law has been hailed by child rights activists as it specifically aims at protecting children’s rights.


The proposed law also has provisions against incest, corporal punishment, bullying and economic exploitation. With the growing number of crime against children, amending the existing laws to incorporate new provisions would not help. We need a full fledged law for children. The proposed law touches all aspects that have remained untouched by the law makers so far,” said Sandhya Bajaj, member of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The WCD ministry wants a central law to prevent child abuse by making it punishable under the law.

The proposed maximum penalty for child abuse is 7 years in prison.

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