New Delhi: Lok Sabha passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Thursday. The Bill includes death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children and greater punishments for other crimes against minors. It was taken up for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha.

Piloting the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said it aims at making offences against children gender neutral.

The Bill, which was already approved by the Rajya Sabha, defines child pornography, making it punishable.

Cutting across party lines, members supported amendments to POCSO Act though some demanded that the Bill be referred to the standing committee or select committee as it makes certain offences punishable with death.

The Bill, said Irani, would provide added legal protection to 39 percent of population or 43 crore children, irrespective of whether they are a girl or boy.

Besides other things, she said, the Bill defines child pornography so that sexual predators indulging in such heinous crimes could be punished.

Regretting that 5,000 persons followed the child pornography site operated by a person, Irani said, "this is a matter of grave concern for the society. The site had even showed the rape of a minor girl, he added.

Recalling a case wherein children were administered drugs and hormones to make them sexually active, she said, the law is aimed at providing stringent punishment to such offenders.

"We want to provide added protection to rarest of rare cases death (penalty)," she added.

Participating in the discussion, Su Thirunavukkarasar (Cong) suggested that since the Bill has a provision for death penalty, it should be sent to a Parliamentary committee for further scrutiny.

Rita Bahuguna Joshi (BJP) said the Bill will go a long way in bringing offenders against children to book.

Kanimozhi (DMK) said that Bill should be sent to select committee or standing committee as harsher punishment could deter people from reporting the crime.