Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Strict Compliance in Reporting Offences under POCSO Act


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: POCSO Act

Mains level: Read the attached story

pocso act

Central Idea

  • HC orders strict compliance: The High Court of Karnataka emphasized the need for strict compliance with Section 19 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, particularly by doctors, to prevent offenders from escaping legal consequences.
  • Responsibility of Stakeholders: The court highlighted that all stakeholders, including doctors, have a responsibility to report offences under the POCSO Act.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act

History Enacted in 2012
Purpose and Scope Legal protection to children from sexual offences, exploitation, and abuse.
Safeguarding Children’s Rights Addresses various sexual offences including assault, child pornography, and harassment to safeguard children’s well-being.
Age of Consent Any sexual activity with person under 18 is deemed an offence, regardless of minor’s consent.
Child-Friendly Approach Implements child-friendly procedures for investigations, minimizing trauma and ensuring safety and welfare.
Reporting Obligations Requires stakeholders, including doctors, to promptly report suspected cases of child sexual offences.
Enhanced Punishments Prescribes stringent punishments and fast-track courts for expediting legal proceedings and delivering justice.
Support for Victims Emphasizes support, rehabilitation, and counseling services for victims, along with child-friendly courtrooms.
Awareness and Prevention Focuses on creating awareness, preventive measures, and educating children, parents, and communities on child protection.
Continuous Amendments and Enhancements Undergoes periodic amendments to strengthen the legal framework and adapt to evolving challenges in protecting children.


Why in the news?

  • Chargesheet against Medical Practitioner: The chargesheet filed against a doctor was not quashed by the court. He was charged for failing to report an offence under the POCSO Act.
  • Treatment of a Minor: The case involved the medical treatment of a girl who was admitted to the hospital following an abortion caused by the consumption of a termination of pregnancy tablet.
  • Addressing Consensual Sexual Activity and Abuse: Strict compliance with reporting obligations is crucial to ensure that offences arising from consensual sexual activity, rape, or sexual abuse against children are properly addressed under the law.

Age Discrepancy and Offence Details

  • Age Discrepancy: The girl’s age, initially recorded as 18 years and three months in hospital documents, was later revealed to be around 12 years and 11 months in the complaint under the POCSO Act.
  • Sexual Intercourse and Abortion: The complaint alleged that the girl was forced to have sexual intercourse by her 21-year-old boyfriend, who administered a tablet to terminate the pregnancy, leading to heavy bleeding.
  • Complaint Timing: The POCSO Act complaint was filed approximately two months after the girl’s treatment at the petitioner’s hospital.

Court’s Analysis and Trial Testing

  • Doctor’s Disbelief Claim: The court rejected the doctor’s contention that he had no reason to disbelieve the individuals who brought the girl to the hospital and claimed she was 18 years and three months old.
  • Observations on Doctor’s Experience: The court found it highly improbable that the doctor, with 35 years of experience as a gynaecologist, did not recognize that the victim was of tender age.
  • Testing in Trial: The court emphasized that the doctor’s claim of ignorance regarding the victim’s age would be examined during the trial proceedings.

Importance of Reporting by Doctors

  • Ensuring Accountability: Strict compliance with reporting obligations by doctors is essential to hold offenders accountable for their actions under the POCSO Act.
  • Preventing Offenders from Escaping Justice: Failure to report offences, especially by medical practitioners, can allow offenders to evade legal consequences and perpetuate harm against children.
  • Safeguarding Child Welfare: Timely reporting of offences by doctors is crucial to protect the welfare and rights of children who may be victims of sexual abuse or exploitation.

Need for State Intervention and Direction

  • State’s Role in Enforcement: The court highlighted the necessity for the state to intervene and direct strict compliance with Section 19 of the POCSO Act, specifically by doctors involved in medical termination of pregnancy for minors in extenuating circumstances.
  • Preventing Offences in Extenuating Circumstances: By ensuring strict compliance, the state can prevent offenders from exploiting extenuating circumstances, such as medical termination of pregnancy, to escape the legal repercussions of their actions.

Way Forward

  • Training and Sensitization: Specialized training programs should be conducted to sensitize doctors about identifying signs of child abuse and reporting suspicious cases promptly.
  • Streamlined Reporting Mechanisms: Establishing streamlined and confidential reporting mechanisms within the healthcare system can facilitate the reporting process and encourage doctors to fulfill their reporting obligations.
  • Collaboration and Coordination: Effective collaboration between healthcare professionals, law enforcement agencies, and child protection authorities is crucial to ensure a coordinated response in cases involving child sexual offences.
  • Stringency against non-Compliance: Implementing stringent consequences for doctors who fail to report offences can serve as a deterrent and reinforce the importance of fulfilling reporting obligations.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Regular monitoring and evaluation of the reporting system can identify gaps, challenges, and areas for improvement to strengthen the reporting process and enhance child protection measures.

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