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  • 11 November, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Age of Adolescent Consent

Age of Adolescent Consent

  • The Karnataka High Court (HC) recently stated that the Law Commission of India would have to reconsider the age criteria in the case of age for consent in order to take into account the ground realities.

Important Points

HC's Position:

  • A case filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012, was dismissed by the Karnataka High Court.
  • It stated that if it is an offense 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.

The following are the terms of the POCSO Act:

  • The offender was frequently charged under Section 366 of the IPC, Section 6 of the POCSO Act, and Section 9 of the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
  • According to the POCSO Act of 2012 and several provisions of the IPC, anyone under the age of 18 who commits a penetrative sexual assault on a child can be "imprisoned for a term not less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to [a] fine."
  • Even if the girl is 16, she is considered a "child" under the POCSO Act, so her consent is irrelevant, and any sexual intercourse is treated as rape, subjecting her to harsh punishment.

Concerns About the Age of Consent Aspect

  • Misuse of the Law: In recent years, the courts have quashed criminal proceedings for rape and kidnapping after concluding that the law was being manipulated to benefit one or both parties.
  • The Karnataka High Court stated in its order, and several other courts have passed similar judgments, that the effect of such criminal prosecution of a minor girl or boy is causing severe distress to all concerned, including the families.
  • Disgruntled parents may file a case to prevent a relationship between two adolescents.

2021 Vijaylakshmi vs State Rep case

  • While dismissing a POCSO case, the Madras High Court stated that the definition of "child" under Section 2(d) of the POCSO Act can be redefined as 16 rather than 18.
  • The court recommended that the age difference in consensual relationships not exceed five years.
  • This will protect a young girl from being taken advantage of by "a person who is much older."

Adolescent Realities and Socio-Legal Responses in India: Why Girls Run Away to Marry

  • In 2019, Partners for Law in Development published a study.
  • It argued that the age of consent should be lower than the age of marriage in order to decriminalize sex among older adolescents and protect them from the misuse of the law, which can occur when parents want to control whom their daughters or sons marry.
  • According to the study, in many cases, a couple elopes due to parental opposition, resulting in a situation in which families file a case with the police, who then charge the boy with rape under the POCSO Act and abduction with the intent to marry under the IPC or the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

Ahead of the game

  • The government should investigate the issue with the courts and rights activists who are requesting an amendment to the age of consent criteria.
  • In the meantime, adolescents must be made aware of the strict provisions of the POCSO Act as well as the IPC.
  • Even as activists call for changes to the POCSO Act and raise awareness about its provisions.
  • Evaluating the Impact of Raising the Marriage Age:
  • A parliamentary committee is investigating the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which would raise the minimum marriage age for women to 21 years.
  • Raising the age, according to rights activists, may force vulnerable women to remain under the yoke of family and social pressures rather than benefiting the community.

Source: The Hindu

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