In a bid to combat rising cases of child sex abuse, a Bill for enhancing punishment, including a provision for death penalty, for committing sexual crimes against children was introduced in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
The bill also puts curbs on child pornography by making provisions for imprisonment up to seven years as well as fine.
Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani introduced the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill 2019, that seeks to amend the existing POCSO law of 2012.
"...as there is a strong need to take stringent measures to deter the rising trend of child sex abuse in the country, the proposed amendments make provisions for enhancement of punishments for various offences so as to deter the perpetrators and ensure safety, security and dignified childhood for a child," the amendment bill said.
It empowers Centre to make rules "for the manner of deleting or destroying or reporting about pornographic material in any form involving a child to the designated authority".
According to the amendment bill, those committing penetrative sexual assaults on a child below 16 years of age would be punished with imprisonment up to 20 years, which might extend to life imprisonment as well as fine.
"Whoever commits aggravated penetrative sexual assault shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than 20 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of natural life of that person and shall also be liable to fine or with death," the bill said.
To curb child pornography, the Bill provides that those who uses a child for pornographic purposes should be punished with imprisonment for up to five years and fine.
However, in the event of second or subsequent conviction, the punishment would be up to 7 years and fine.
In statement of objects and reasons, the Bill mentioned that incidence of child sexual abuse cases demonstrating the inhumane mind-set of the abusers, who have been barbaric in their approach towards young victims, is rising.
"Children are becoming easy prey because of their tender age, physical vulnerabilities and inexperience of life and society," it said.
The unequal balance of power leading to the gruesome act might detriment the mind of the child to believe that might is right, the Bill said, adding that studies establish that those victims become more abusive later in their life.
The Union Cabinet had last week approved amendments in the POCSO Act, which deals with crime against children.