ANI Photo | Age of consent among adolescents in sexual ‘romantic’ relationships in POCSO Act needs relook: CJI

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Saturday urged the Legislature to address growing concerns related to the age of consent under the POCSO Act, which criminalises consensual sexual activities even in ‘romantic’ relationships for those under the age of 18.
The CJI was delivering his keynote address at the two-day national consultation on the POCSO Act, organised by the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Justice in association with UNICEF.
He said one of the topics that would be discussed by the panel during the session pertains to judgments of the POCSO courts in ‘romantic cases’ or cases where consenting adolescents engage in sexual activity.
“I note that the topic for one of the panel discussions today is to do with the judgments of POCSO courts in ‘romantic cases’ or cases where consenting adolescents engage in sexual activity. As you are no doubt aware, the POCSO Act criminalises all sexual activity for those under the age of 18 regardless of whether consent is factually present between the two minors in a particular case. In my time as a judge, I have observed that this category of cases poses difficult questions for judges across the spectrum. There is growing concern surrounding this issue, which must be considered by the Legislature in light of reliable research by experts in adolescent healthcare,” said the CJI.

Further, the CJI said sexual abuse of children remains a hidden problem as there is a culture of silence and therefore, the state must encourage families to report abuse even where the perpetrator is a family member.
Children must be taught the difference between safe touch and unsafe touch, he said.
The CJI said families of victims are immensely hesitant to file a complaint with the police and so, one must be very careful about entrusting excessive powers to the police.
“Above all, there is an urgent need to ensure that the so-called honour of the family is not prioritised above the best interest of the child,” said the CJI.
CJI Chandrachud said it is an unfortunate fact that the criminal justice system functions in a way that sometimes compounds the victims’ trauma and the Executive must, therefore, join hands with the judiciary to prevent this from happening.

This report is filed by ANI news service. TheNewsMill holds no responsibility for this content.

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