22 Dec 2022 4:30 AM GMT
The Central Government has informed the Rajya Sabha that there is no proposal to reduce the age of consent from 18 years to 16 years under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 to prevent the criminalisation of consensual relationships between teenagers.Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani stated this in response to a query raised by Rajya Sabha MP...
The Central Government has informed the Rajya Sabha that there is no proposal to reduce the age of consent from 18 years to 16 years under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 to prevent the criminalisation of consensual relationships between teenagers.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani stated this in response to a query raised by Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam.
The query raised in the unstarred question was : Whether Government is considering any proposal to reduce the age of consent from 18 to 16 years under the Act to prevent the criminalization of consensual relationships between teenagers?.
"Does not arise", was the short written response of the Minister. The Minister further stated that as per the Indian Majority Act, 18 years is the age of majority and that the POCSO Act "clearly defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years".
It may be noted that recently, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had appealed to the Parliament to consider concerns regarding the age of consent under the POCSO Act considering the fact that "romantic relationships" form a substantial majority of cases under the law.
"You are aware that the POCSO Act criminalizes all sexual acts among those under 18 regardless of whether consent is present factually among the minors because the presumption of the law is that there is no consent in the legal sense among those below 18. In my time as a judge, I have observed that this category of cases poses difficult questions for judges across the spectrum. There is a growing concern surrounding this issue which must be considered by the legislature in view of reliable research by experts in adolescent healthcare," CJI Chandrachud observed at the National Stakeholders Consultation on the POCSO Act being organized by the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Justice, in association with UNICEF on December 10.
The High Courts of Madras and Karnataka have also recommended that the age of consent be reduced.
Teenage Relationships & POCSO: Karnataka HC Asks Law Commission To Rethink Age Of Consent For Sex
Last year also, the Madras High Court had said: "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."
Our readers may further note that recently, the Delhi High Court too observed that the intention of The Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was to protect children from sexual abuse and not criminalize consensual romantic relationships of young adults.