Friday, June 21, 2024

MP HC quashes FIR against rape accused boy, requests Centre to lower age limit from 18 to 16

The Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court has recommended to the Centre to consider lowering the age from the current 18 years to 16 years under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

The HC made this observation while hearing a petition of a 17-year-old boy, who was booked under the POCSO Act on the basis of a complaint of a 14-year-old girl in Gwalior.

The accused was arrested in 2020 for rape charges. The girl, who was a student, had got pregnant and abortion was done with prior permission of the court in 2020.

On Friday, the defence counsel argued that the physical relation was developed with the consent of both (victim and accused). After hearing the arguments from both sides, the bench quashed the FIR against the accused person and requested the Centre to consider lowering the age from 18 to 16.

“In the era of the Internet, youths are getting mature much earlier. Many youths develop physical relationship before completing 18 year of age limit, and some times, they are booked for rape and their future get destroyed,” Madhya Pradesh High Court observed.

Notably, in the past few years, the High Courts of several states have recommended the same at different times.

In 2022, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud had also appealed to Parliament, to have a relook at the issue of age of consent, as cases involving consensual sexual relationships among adolescents posed “difficult questions for judges across the spectrum”.

The reports suggested that CJI D. Y. Chandrachud had also pointed out that the peculiar challenge posed by POCSO was that it criminalises all sexual activities for those under the age of 18 years even if consent was factually present between two minors.

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