The Karnataka High Court recently called upon the Law Commission of India to reconsider the criteria for age of consent. Discuss the need for this reconsideration.
While dismissing a lawsuit brought under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, the Karnataka High Court recently stated that the Law Commission of India would have to reconsider the age threshold in order to take into account ground realities.
It stated that if it is an offence under the Indian Penal Code and/or the POCSO Act, consent by a girl of 16 years but under the age of 18 years must be considered.
POCSO Act 2012:
- It was enacted to protect children against sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography, with proper consideration for children’s interests and well-being.
- It defines a child as someone under the age of eighteen.
- Under POCSO, the consent of a person under the age of 18 is immaterial, regardless of the nature and circumstances of the sexual encounter or the characteristics of the person with whom it occurs.
Drawbacks of POCSO Act:
- Several rape and kidnapping cases have been dismissed by judges in the recent years because they believed that the law was being abused to favour one side over the other.
- Consensual intercourse between pre-adult teens is also not recognised by the law, which frequently leads to rape accusations against the boy in this situation.
Misuse of the Act:
- The Karnataka High Court stated in its order—and several other courts have made similar rulings—that the result of such criminal prosecution of a child girl or boy is inflicting extreme pain to all parties involved, especially the family.
- Disgruntled parents may bring a lawsuit to prevent a connection between two teenagers.
It is important to make adolescents aware of the strict rules set forth in both the Act and the IPC. Laws must be changed urgently to raise the legal drinking age and protect older adolescents who engage in factually consenting and non-exploitative behaviour from being criminalized.