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Amend laws to try those above 16 years: Parl panel suggests changes in Posco act | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel looking into the issue of ‘atrocities against women and children’ has suggested that the government examine the possibility of reducing the current age threshold of 18 years for applicability of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (Posco), to 16 years.
The department-related parliamentary standing committee on home affairs chaired by Congress MP Anand Sharma, in its report on offences against women and children tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, also asked the home ministry to advise all states and Union territories to conduct a study on effectiveness of laws in preventing crimes against women and children.
This followed from its observation “with grave concern” that the stringent provisions in the law had not acted as a deterrent and made only a limited impact in checking such crimes.
Noting that there had been a large number of cases under the Posco Act where the age of the juveniles was below the threshold age of 18 years, the committee comprising MPs from the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha noted that minor sexual offenders may commit more serious and heinous crimes if left “untreated or uncounselled”.
“Therefore, it is very important to relook at these provisions because more and more juveniles are getting involved in such crimes,” it said while suggesting that the home ministry sound the ministry of women and child development to review the current age limit of 18 years and see if it can be reduced to 16 years for applicability of Posco Act, 2012.
As per the current provisions in Posco Act, a person above 16 years may be tried as an adult in only select cases involving heinous offences like murder and rape, based on the view taken by a juvenile justice board.
As per NCRB crime data, the numbers of cases registered under the Posco, Act totalled 32,608, 39,827 and 47,325 in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. This marks an 18% increase in 2019 as compared to 2018.
The committee also noted that multiple helpline numbers were being used for different categories of complaints about crimes against women and children, besides varying from state to state. It recommended that there be a single three-digit helpline number that can be uniformly accessed across all states/UTs, while asking MHA to advise all States/UTs to integrate their helpline numbers with pan-India helpline ‘112’.
The committee called for an in-depth study on the changing patterns of crimes under various heads to understand the reasons for different types of crime, the types of offenders, etc., so as to ascertain the reasons for the failure of the existing public policy governance mechanisms in curtailing/preventing atrocities and crimes against women and children. This study could be taken up by the Bureau of Police Research & Development under MHA, it said.
Disappointed at just 38.55% disbursal out of Nirbhaya Fund, the committee recommended that MHA coordinate with WCD ministry to undertake due consultation with states to improve the utilization of the funds allocated to them.
The panel said it was disappointed that women constituted only 10.30% of the police force and asked MHA to advise states/UTs to conduct special recruitment drives for women at all levels in a time-bound manner.
Noting inadequacies in registration of complaints relating to crime against women and children at the police station, the committee cited the initiative taken by the Rajasthan Police of conducting decoy operations to check whether such FIRs were being registered or not. It recommended that these decoy operations be conducted at regular intervals throughout the country.
The Committee further recommended that CCTV cameras be installed on priority in all shelter homes within a stipulated time frame so as to prevent incidents of physical abuse of the inmates.



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