Civil society questions validity of PDP-BJP govt's ordinance about sexual violence against children in Guv rule

Civil society questions validity of PDP-BJP govt's ordinance about sexual violence against children in Guv rule

But now with the state being since under Governor’s rule, the child right experts seems to be in a dilemma about the validity of ordinance.

After the gruesome rape of an eight-year-old girl at Kathua, the government in April came up with an ordinance for the protection of children against sexual violence. But before the ordinance could be enacted as a law the government fell. Now, the legal and child right experts are questioning the validity of the ordinance.

In absence of a stringent law for the protection of the children, the PDP-BJP government brought an ordinance called the Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Offences 2018. The Act was similar to POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) that has been implemented in rest of India in 2012.

But now with the state being since under Governor’s rule, the child right experts seems to be in a dilemma about the validity of ordinance. 

Senior Advocate Mushtaq Ahmad Dar said: “The life of the ordinance is limited. After six months if the government fails to enact it as a law its validity is over”.

But Chairman Selection-Cum-Oversight Committee – an apex body for monitoring and evaluation of Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) – Justice (R) Hasnain Masoodi has a different opinion.

“The Governor has the powers to promulgate an ordinance, but six weeks after the ordinance is passed, it must be enacted into a law by the legislators. If they don’t do it within six weeks the ordinance loses its validity. But since the assembly is yet to sit and discuss about it, the ordinance will continue to live till assembly reconvenes”.

The salient features of the ordinance  were that it provides protection to children from offences like sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest and well being  of the child and the well being at every stage of the judicial process.

The ordinance also provides punishment for an act or omission constituting an offence under the ordinance and also under various provisions of the State Penal Code relating to sexual assault. It also provides provisions relating to child-friendly procedures and reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences.  It also calls for the establishment of special courts for speedy trial of such offences. The ordinance makes it mandatory for the educational institutions to ensure safety and protection of children and not to expose them to any kind of sexual abuse.

The Ordinance which is similar to POCSO (protection of Children from Sexual Offences) lays down punishment for offenders of penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault and provides for punishment up to rigorous imprisonment for life, and a fine.

It also contains guidelines on how to report a case of child sexual abuse as well as on how the victim needs to be cared for and protection by protected by Special Juvenile Police Unit or local Police.

“After much delay the government came up with an ordinance for children and now before it could be enacted into a law there are questions making rounds about its applicability,” said a child rights expert.