Sexual act with child below 18 punishable offence

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has notified rules under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The Act has done away with the age of consent clause and classified any sexual act with a child below 18 as a punishable offence.

Though it has encountered criticism from various quarters, including the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, on the age of consent issue, the ministry maintains that the Act will not be abused to harass minors as in such cases action would be taken under the Juvenile Justice Act.

The rules emphasise the need to communicate with a child in a language he/ she is comfortable with and in the presence of a person known to the child.

The child welfare committee would take a decision on whether the child needs to be shifted to a home based on factors like whether the child needs to remain in the care of parent, family and extended family, his/her age, maturity, gender, social and economic background and chronic illness etc.

The rules make it the duty of the local police or child protection unit to ensure not just action on the child's complaint but also that the victim gets adequate medical attention within 24 hours of coming to know about the crime.

"No medical practitioner, hospital or other medical facility centre rendering emergency medical care to a child shall demand any legal or magisterial requisition or other documentation as a pre-requisite to rendering such care," say the rules.

The rules specify the provision for deciding on an interim compensation by the special court, either on its own or on an application filed by the child at any stage after registration of the FIR. The interim compensation would be adjusted against the final compensation.

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