Concerned over the rising incidents of crime against children, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued an advisory to all the states to ensure that the cases are firmly dealt with under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2013, which was enacted in November.
The act provides protection from sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography to all children under the age of 18.
In the advisory, the ministry has asked the states’ Principal Secretary (Home) to spread awareness through the media at regular intervals to make the general public and children as well as their parents and guardians aware of the provisions of the act, which strengthens the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
And the state governments will be required to set up special courts and to take steps to ensure child-friendly procedures for reporting, recording of the evidence and investigation.
According to the advisory, the evidence of the victim has to be recorded within 30 days as prescribed under the act and the special court must complete the trial within a year.
It also called for strict action to protect the identity of victim.
“The media has been barred from disclosing the identity of the child without the permission of the Special Court.
The punishment for breaching this provision by the media may be (increased)from six months to one year,” it said.
Also, the officials responsible for registering the complaint will face the heat if they refused to act as per the rules laid down under the new law and they will be liable for imprisonment of six months.
“To provide for relief and rehabilitation of the child as soon as the complaint is made to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) or the local police, these will make immediate arrangements to give the child, care and protection such as admitting the child to a shelter home or to the nearest hospital within 24 hours of the report,” the advisory said.
According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 7112 cases of child rape were reported in the country last year as compared to 5,484 in 2010.