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Punishing an adolescent boy who’s in a relationship with a minor lady; not an goal of the POCSO Act: Madras HC

On the 27th of January, the High court of Madres held that “Punishing an adolescent boy who enters into a relationship with a minor girl by treating him as an offender, was never the objective of the POCSO Act”.

The breathtaking remarks were made while the court was highlighting the rampant use of the POSCO Act by the families of minor girls who were involved in the act of prosecuting the partners of their daughters.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh also added that the legislature must keep pace with the changing societal needs and bring about necessary changes in law and more particularly in a stringent law such as the POCSO Act.

The current case wherein the 20-year-old accused of having sexual relationship with a minor, in a consensual relationship the judge mentioned

“Incidents of this nature keep occurring regularly even now in villages and towns and occasionally in cities. After the parents or family lodge a complaint, the police register FIRs for offenses of kidnapping and various offenses under the POCSO Act. Several criminal cases booked under the POCSO Act all under this category. As a consequence of such an FIR being registered, invariably the boy gets arrested and thereafter, his youthful life comes to a grinding halt.”

In this context, the Bench also recalled the case of Sabari v. Inspector of Police, 2019 (3) MLJ Crl 110 where a Single Judge of the High Court discussed that persons of the age group of 16 to 18 years are involved in love affairs and how in some cases ultimately end up in a criminal case booked for an offense under the POSCO Act.

The bench observed “As rightly recognized by the Learned Single Judge of this Court in Sabari’s Case (cited supra), incidences where teenagers and young adults fall victim to offenses under the POCSO Act being slapped against them without understanding the implication of the severity of the enactment is an issue that brings much concern to the conscience of this Court.

A reading of the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the POCSO Act would show that the Act was brought into force to protect children from offenses of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography, pursuant to Article 15 of the Constitution of India, 1950 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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