Karnataka HC Directs Law Commission to Reconsider Age of Consent Under POCSO

The bench said it had come across several cases where minor girls have eloped, and had sexual intercourse, of their own volition.

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: The Karnataka high court has directed the Law Commission of India to reconsider the age of consent in Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

In a judgment passed on November 5, a bench of Justices Suraj Govindaraj and G. Basavaraja said, “Having come across several cases relating to minor girls above 16 years having fallen in love and eloped and in the meantime, having had sexual intercourse with the boy, we are of the considered opinion that the Law Commission of India will have to rethink on the age criteria, so as to take into consideration the ground realities.”

The court was hearing an appeal filed by the police challenging the acquittal of a POCSO accused. The trial court acquitted the accused of charges under Section 376(2)(j) as also Sections 5(1) and 6 of the POCSO Act, LiveLaw reported.

Also read: Here’s Why the Move to Increase Women’s Age of Marriage Is a Red Herring

It found that the girl, then 17, had eloped with the boy in 2017. Though the girl’s parents had filed the complaint, all the witnesses turned hostile. While the case continued, the two got married and now have two children. Confirming the boy’s acquittal, the court, however, gave directions to the Law Commission as well as the Education Department in Karnataka.

Though lack of knowledge of POCSO and IPC is not an excuse, the high court said students should be made aware of the POCSO Act. The court also directed the principal secretary of the State Education Department to formulate suitable educational material on the subject, LiveLaw reported.

Currently, the age of consent is 18. A girl below the age of 18 is thus legally unable to consent to sex, and sex with a minor girl amounts to rape.

(With PTI inputs)