Supreme Court Seeks Response of State Government In Plea Seeking Compounding Of Offences In POCSO Cases
The Supreme Court on Friday while issuing notice to the State of Tamil Nadu also granted interim protection to the petitioner from coercive action in the in a plea raising concerns about punishing teenagers under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 Act for consensual sex.
A bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Krishna Murari sought response from the Tamil Nadu Government on the contentions of the petitioner.
Advocate Rahul Shyam Bhandari appearing for the petitioner and stated to the Supreme Court that the larger issue of whether adolescents who are in live-in relationship or having consensual sex should be punished under the POCSO Act.
The main issue which has been raised by the petitioner is whether an adolescent boy, who enters into a relationship with a girl who is less than 18 years of age, can be punished for the offence of sexual assault under the POCSO Act.
The Petitioner has challenged the Madras High Court's order refusing permission to compound the offences alleged against him, as being contrary to a decision rendered by another coordinate Bench of the Madras High Court in Vijaylakshmi & Anr. v. State wherein Justice Anand observed that the POCSO Act does not intend to bring within its scope cases involving adolescent teenagers in romantic relationships.
Similarly, another coordinate bench of the Mardras High Court comprised of Justice V. Parthiban in Sabari v. Inspector of Police wherein he had discussed in detail about the cases in which persons of the age group of 16 to 18 years are involved in love affairs and how in some cases ultimately end up in a criminal case booked for an offence under the POSCO Act and observed that,
“When the girl below 18 years is involved in a relationship with the teen age boy or little over the teen age, it is always a question mark as to how such relationship could be defined, though such relationship would be the result of mutual innocence and biological attraction. Such relationship cannot be construed as an unnatural one or alien to between relationship of opposite sexes. But in such cases where the age of the girl is below 18 years, even though she was capable of giving consent for relationship, being mentally matured, unfortunately, the provisions of the POCSO Act get attracted if such relationship transcends beyond platonic limits, attracting strong arm of law sanctioned by the provisions of POCSO Act, catching up with the so called offender of sexual assault, warranting a severe imprisonment of 7/10 years.”
Case title : MARUTHUPANDI VS THE STATE, REPRESENTED BY INSPECTOR OF POLICE, 2021