In a noteworthy observation, the Karnataka High Court stated that, given the ground realities, the Law Commission must reconsider the age of consent under the POCSO Act.
“Having come across numerous instances involving minor girls over the age of 16 falling in love, eloping, and having sexual intercourse with the boy, we believe that the Law Commission of India should reconsider the age criteria in order to take into account the ground realities. If there is an offence under the IPC and/or POCSO Act, the element of consent, even by a girl of 16 years or older, must be considered ” the bench of Justice Suraj Govindraj and Justice G. Basavaraja remarked.
The current legal age of consent for sex is 18 years. Consent given by a girl under the age of 18 is not considered legitimate consent, and sexual intercourse with a juvenile girl constitutes a rape offence.
Essentially, the Court made this observation while hearing a state appeal challenging the acquittal of a Rape and POCSO Act accused who eloped with a 17-year-old girl and engaged in sexual intercourse with her in 2017. Despite the fact that the girl’s parents filed a complaint, all of the prosecution witnesses became hostile, and while the case was ongoing, the accused and the victim married, and the victim gave birth to two children.
Given the circumstances, the trial judge acquitted the accused of the allegations. In upholding the acquittal ruling, the High Court also emphasised the importance of educating students from the IX standard on the aspects of the POCSO Act in order for them to understand such activities that are criminalised under the POCSO Act as well as the Indian Penal Code.
In light of this observation, the Court also directed the Principal Secretary of the State Education Department to form a committee to develop appropriate educational components in this regard, and to issue necessary directives to all schools, requiring students to be educated and warned of the consequences of their actions if they violate the POCSO Act or the IPC.