SC to examine if consensual physical relationship between minors punishable under POCSO Act

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has decided to examine whether minors indulging in consensual relationship can be tried under the stringent POCSO Act.

A bench presided over by Justice Indira Banerjee issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition seeking clarity on the law for punishing minors under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 Act for consensual sex.

The court also granted interim protection to the petitioner, represented by advocate Rahul Shyam Bhandari, in a rape complaint filed in 2015.

“Issue notice. In the meanwhile, no coercive steps to be taken against the petitioner,” the order of the apex court stated.

The petitioner contended that punishing teenagers for consensual sex was not the objective of POCSO Act.

The plea by him also said the larger issue was whether teenagers who are in live-in relationship or having consensual sex should be punished under the POCSO Act.

The case arose from a criminal complaint filed in 2015 by a 17-year-old girl against the petitioner, who was then 18-year-old, alleging rape, cheating and offences under the POCSO Act.

As per the complainant, the alleged offences took place in 2014 when both of them were minors.

The complainant alleged that the boy developed physical relationship with her on the pretext of marrying.

Later when she insisted him to get married, the petitioner allegedly refused saying his parents were contemplating his marriage with another girl who may give a huge dowry.

The boy, on the other hand, contended that he and the girl had developed a liking for each other while studying in school.

He denied the charges, on the ground that the sexual relationship between them was consensual.

During the trial, however, the girl changed her stance and stated that she was in a consensual physical relationship with the man. The trial court, however, refused to accept her version and in 2019 convicted the boy under the POCSO Act.

The boy was sentenced to ten years in jail.

He then approached the Madras High Court which on March 16 refused to accept an affidavit filed by the girl stating the physical relationship was consensual. (Agency)

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