The fact of the Case
In the case of Rahul Chandel Jatav v. State of M.P a petition under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, was filed for the quashing of an FIR that was filed under Sections 376(2)(F)(n), 376(3), 315 of the Penal Code, 1860, Sections 5(L)(O)/6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, as well as all related proceedings that were ongoing before the Additional Sessions Judge and Special Judge POCSO Act.
After the prosecutrix filed a complaint against the petitioner, alleging that the petitioner had sex with her, made a video of her after giving her a drink that was spiked, and repeatedly exploited her under the pretence of making the video go viral.
The petitioner claimed that since the physical contact was developed with the prosecutrix’s agreement and without the use of coercion, a wrongful FIR had been filed against him. The petitioner additionally argued that there was no proof of any sexual assault that had occurred within.
The respondent argued that although the FIR was filed after the occurrence, the prosecutrix was still a juvenile at the time.
Analysis of Court order
A single judge from the Madhya Pradesh high court, Justice Deepak Kumar Agarwal, ruled that the prosecutrix, in this case, was mentally and physically mature and could make informed judgements about her well-being. While granting the petitioner’s request, the court determined that, in view of the unusual facts and circumstances, the proceeding in the current case before the Trial Court would be pointless. The court, therefore set aside the contested FIR and any subsequent proceedings that resulted from it.
According to the court, a sizable portion of cases brought under the POCSO Act seems to be those that are the result of complaints made by the relatives of young people and teenagers who are engaged in romantic relationships with one another. The layout of the Act makes it abundantly evident that situations involving adolescents or teenagers participating in romantic relationships were not intended to fall under its purview or ambit. The Court noted that in the present case, the prosecutrix could make a conscious decision regarding her well-being and that it appears that there is no men’s rea involved when considering the physical and mental development of an adolescent in the 16 to 18-year age range.
According to the Court, because of social media awareness and readily available internet connectivity, males and females approaching the age of 14 are entering puberty at an earlier age. This results in criminal cases where the prosecutor is under the age of 18, but adolescent boys are classified as criminals and suffer injustice. In order to address injustice, the Court asked that the Government of India consider lowering the age of prosecutrix from 18 to 16 years.