Indian Supreme Court to examine punishment of minors under POCSO Act

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a critical question whether minors indulging in consensual relationship could be tried under stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2021.

A bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee sought response from Tamil Nadu government on a plea seeking clarity on the law for punishing minors, who indulge in consensual sex under POCSO Act.

The petitioner argued that POCSO Act’s aim was not punishing teenagers for consensual sex. The counsel for the petitioner urged the top court to grant interim protection to his client in a complaint filed in 2015.

The petitioner argued he and the victim developed liking for each other while at school and the sexual relationship between them was consensual.

The matter is connected with a 2015 criminal complaint, which was filed by a 17-year-old girl against the petitioner, who was 18-year-old then. The complaint alleged rape, cheating and offences under POCSO Act.

According to the complainant, the alleged offence took place in 2014, when both victim and the petitioner were minors.

The petitioner, in the plea, argued that the bigger issue involved in the matter is that whether teenagers who are having consensual sex or they are in a live-in relationship should be punished under the POCSO Act.

After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court said: “Issue notice. In the meanwhile, no coercive steps to be taken against the petitioner.”

The victim had alleged that the petitioner on a false pretext of marriage developed a physical relationship with her.

According to the victim, she asked the petitioner to fulfil his promise of marriage, but he told her that circumstances have changed as his parents have declined his marriage to her. However, the complainant during the trial claimed that she had a consensual relation with him. Yet, the petitioner was convicted by the trial under POCSO Act in 2019 and he was sentenced to ten years in jail.

The Madras High Court on March 16, declined to accept an affidavit by the woman where she claimed there was consensual relationship between them. Thereafter, the petitioner moved the top court.

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