In a major setback to the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, the Law Ministry has rejected the Offences Against Children Bill, saying the bill is just a repetition of provisions in other laws.
The Law Ministry has told WCD that most provisions for child protection already exist in different laws and therefore, there is no need for a separate enactment of legislation.
The legal affairs department of the ministry said offences of sexual or physical abuse against children are covered under different sections of the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The ministry also said the Evidence Act also covers child protection in a comprehensive manner.
Following criticism from the Supreme Court on the Domestic Violence Act,
the Law Ministry was doubly cautious this time. The apex court had termed the Act a poorly drafted legislation. In the wake of the court’s observations, the law ministry said the child offences law
would only duplicate the work for law enforcement agencies.
The WCD ministry has touted the Offences Against Children bill as a major weapon to prevent incidents like Nithari and said that it would be introduced in Parliament in the monsoon session. After receiving a drubbing from the Law Ministry, the WCD ministry officials, said they were examining the draft bill in a bid to convince the Law Ministry about its utility.
The WCD ministry had covered all types of offences against child including corporal punishment, emotional abuse by parents or teachers and different types of sexual abuse. Stringent punishment for offences against child was prescribed. The ministry had also said that the bill would bring India at par with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.