Antipatory Bail in Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) : Section 20 : Punishment for storage of pornographic material involving children – in Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh

Analysis of Section 20: Punishment for Child Pornography Storage

Section 20 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act deals with the offenses involving the storage of pornographic material that depicts children. The act of storing such material with or without the intention of dissemination constitutes a crime under this law, reflecting the severity with which Indian legislation addresses the protection of children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

As per the provisions laid out in this section, individuals found possessing any form of child pornography may face stern penalties, including imprisonment. The exact punishment corresponds to the gravity of the offense and the involvement of the individual. If someone is caught storing child pornography, even for personal use, they are eligible for punishment under this section.

The law also makes a distinction between first-time and recurring offenders. The penalties are:

  • For a first-time offender, imprisonment can range from a minimum term of three years to a maximum of five years. Alongside imprisonment, a fine is also imposed, which is meticulously decided upon by the court based on specifics of the case.
  • In scenarios entailing a second or subsequent conviction, the punishment is harsher, with imprisonment that can extend from five years to seven years. This comes in addition to a fine, which would again be determined by the court’s discretion, taking into account the criminal conduct and its impact.

The stringent nature of the penalties under Section 20 is indicative of the intent behind the POCSO Act – to deter the possession and circulation of child pornographic content and to assertively protect the best interests of children. It is not just the act of storage but the implied complicity in the broader realm of child pornography that the section aims to punish and curb.

Furthermore, the rationale underpining this section extends beyond punishment and toward the eradication of the environment that allows child pornography to proliferate. Section 20 holds individuals accountable for the role they play in sustaining the demand and spread of such exploitative material, thereby creating a risky climate for children both online and offline.

Understanding the provisions within Section 20 is crucial for legal practitioners, law enforcement agencies, and also the general public to grasp the legal consequences of inappropriate content storage. This knowledge serves as a preventive deterrent and also aids in an effective legal response to violations of children’s rights.

It is imperative to note that the enforcement of this section entails a meticulous investigative process to establish the possession of such materials and to ensure that the rights of the accused are preserved throughout the legal proceedings. The judiciary balances the need for strict enforcement with the principles of fairness and due process as enshrined within the Indian legal framework.

Recent Judgments by Punjab and Haryana High Court on Anticipatory Bail in POCSO Cases

In a series of significant rulings, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has clarified various aspects concerning anticipatory bail in cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. These judgments are vital in shaping the judicial approach towards the grant of anticipatory bail in a sensitive domain that involves the accusation of sexual abuse against children.

One such landmark judgment highlighted that the courts need to exercise their discretion judiciously when considering anticipatory bail applications in POCSO cases. The decision made it clear that while the rights of the accused are important, they should be weighed against the backdrop of the stringent nature of the POCSO Act, which aims to protect children from sexual offenses.

A noteworthy aspect observed by the High Court was regarding the severity of the allegations. The Court pointed out that in determining whether to grant anticipatory bail, the gravity and the nature of the allegations must be taken into account. In cases where the allegations are severe and the evidence against the accused appears strong, the grant of anticipatory bail becomes less likely.

The POCSO Act is a special legislation that is both stringent and protective in nature — and this duality must reflect in the treatment of applications for anticipatory bail.

Another critical area addressed by the High Court pertains to the possibility of the accused tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses if released on bail. In some judgments, the High Court has categorically stated that if there is a significant risk of obstruction of justice, anticipatory bail should be denied, as the integrity of the investigation holds paramount importance.

Additionally, the High Court has emphasized that the personal liberty of the accused under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution should not be ignored. Anticipatory bail in POCSO cases, therefore, should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, where the threat to the accused’s liberty and interests are pitted against potential risks to the child victim and the community at large.

Recent judgments also call for a sensitive approach towards the victims in POCSO cases. The High Court has reminded lower courts that while dealing with such matters, the impact on the child victim and their family should always be considered a priority. The fear of retaliation or intimidation can be a real concern that courts need to mitigate through prudent judicial discernment.

The judgments of the Punjab and Haryana High Court present a nuanced understanding of the POCSO Act’s intent, and the balance courts must maintain between the rights of the accused and the protection of child victims. These rulings significantly contribute to the legal principles governing anticipatory bail and illuminate the path for lower courts in handling bail applications within the sensitive framework of child sexual abuse cases.


List of Most Recommended Lawyers:


1. Advocate Aisha Khanna
  • Experience: more than 20 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

2. Advocate Devansh Chopra
  • Experience: more than 25 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

3. Advocate Avani Patel
  • Experience: more than 35 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

4. Advocate Sara Choudhary
  • Experience: more than 40 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

5. Advocate Krish Sharma
  • Experience: more than 30 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

6. Advocate Diya Verma
  • Experience: more than 50 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

7. Advocate Ishani Singh
  • Experience: more than 30 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

8. Advocate Avisha Gupta
  • Experience: more than 25 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

9. Advocate Aarush Mehra
  • Experience: more than 20 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer

10. Advocate Aanya Mehra
  • Experience: more than 45 years
  • Expertise: Quashing matters
  • Practice Area: Criminal Lawyer