CASE: Vijayalakshmi & Anr. v. State & Anr
CITATION: Crl.O.P.No.232 of 2021
CORAM: Hon’ble Justice N. Anand Venkatesh
“Punishing an adolescent boy who enters into a relationship with a minor girl by treating him as an offender, was never the objective of the POCSO Act,”
The above remark was made while highlighting the misuse of POCSO Act by families that are rampant for prosecuting partners of their teenage daughters.
The single-judge bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh stated that the legislature has to keep pace with the change in needs of the society and bring the necessary changes in law and specifically in stringent laws such as POCSO Act.
The bench was dealing with a case where a 20 year old boy was apprehended by the police for sexual assault and kidnapping of a minor girl.
It was observed that the victim and the accused were in a consensual relationship the bench stated” Incidents of this nature keep occurring regularly even now in villages and towns and occasionally in cities. After the parents or family lodge a complaint, the police register FIRs for offences of kidnapping and various offences under the POCSO Act. Several criminal cases booked under the POCSO Act fall under this category. As a consequence of such an FIR being registered, invariably the boy gets arrested, and thereafter, his youthful life comes to a grinding halt”
“The provisions of the POCSO Act, as it stands today, will surely make the acts of the boy an offence due to its stringent nature. An adolescent boy caught in a situation like this will surely have no defense if the criminal case is taken to its logical end.”
The bench stated that punishing and adolescent boy for entering into a relationship with a minor girl and treating him as an offender was not the intention of POCSO Act. It was observed “An adolescent boy and girl who are in the grips of their hormones and biological changes and whose decision-making ability is yet to fully develop, should essentially receive the support and guidance of their parents and the society at large. These incidents should never be perceived from an adult’s point of view and such an understanding will in fact lead to lack of empathy. An adolescent boy who is sent to prison in a case of this nature will be persecuted throughout his life.”
The bench also referred to the case of Sabari v Inspector of Police, 2019 (3) MLJ Crl 110 where the single judge bench had discussed the issue that persons of 16-18 age group involved in love affairs in some cases are criminally booked under POCSO Act.