New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is all set to introduce an exhaustive definition of child pornography in its proposed changes to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The bill, which provides for punishment, including death, for sexual assault against children, was approved by the Cabinet chaired by PM Modi Tuesday. The bill is expected to be introduced again in the Lok Sabha Friday.
Sources in the government told ThePrint that all other provisions of the bill remain the same as last year when it was introduced in Parliament, but lapsed when the Lok Sabha was dissolved in May.
The purpose of the new definition of child pornography is to ensure that the punishment can be implemented properly.
The new definition
According to an official in the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the new bill defines child pornography as: “Any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which includes photograph, video, digital or computer-generated image (that is) indistinguishable from an actual child.”
Additionally, “an image created, adapted, modified” to depict a child would also be treated as child pornography. This would also include cartoons, animated pictures, etc., the official said.
“So far, there had been no definition of child pornography in Indian law. That was a big lacuna which could be used to evade the law. Now we have come up with a well-rounded, robust definition,” the official added. “People would also get away by saying that it is not actually a child in the video, but an adult pretending to be a child, and try and evade the law… So now we have said that even that is illegal.”
Quantum of punishment
According to the new bill, anyone who stores or possesses child pornographic material and does not destroy or report it will be liable to pay a fine of Rs 5,000. In case the offence is repeated, the fine levied would be Rs 10,000. The fine proposed in the earlier amendment bill was Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively, but it was felt the amount would not have been a huge deterrent to offenders.
If the person tries to transmit, display or distribute the material in any manner, except for as evidence in court or to report it, the act could attract imprisonment of three years and/or a fine.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.