POCSO not meant to criminalize consensual romantic relationships: Delhi High Court


New Delhi: The Delhi High Court recently held that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) was intended to protect children from sexual exploitation and that it was “never intended to criminalize consensual romantic relationships between young adults”.

The observation was made by Justice Jasmeet Singh while granting bail to a young man arrested by the Delhi Police on the basis of an FIR filed by the father of a minor girl accusing him of raping and abducting his 17-year-old daughter. with the intention of forcing her into marriage.

In October 2021, the girl came to the man’s house and the next day they went to Punjab and got married.

The girl approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court last year and stated that she had married the young man of her own free will. And later the Punjab High Court and Haryana ordered the police to provide adequate and proper protection to the girl and her husband.

However, the girl’s parents filed a complaint in Delhi and claimed that the girl was 17 years old when she married the man.

The man was arrested and had been in custody since December 2021 and applied for bail in the Delhi High Court.

Last month, on October 20, the court while granting the man bail stated that the girl had married the applicant of her own free will and without coercion.

Advocate General Singh stated the motion: “In my view, POCSO was intended to protect children under the age of 18 from sexual exploitation. It was never intended to criminalize consensual romantic relationships between young adults,” as reported Bar and bench.

However, this has to be seen on the facts and circumstances of each case. There may be cases where a survivor of a sexual crime may have to adapt under pressure or trauma, the court said.

The court said that he interacted with the girl in her chamber, she told him that she married the applicant of her own free will and without any coercion.

He also said he wanted to stay with the applicant.

After considering the case, Justice Singh held that it was not a case where a girl was forced into a relationship with a boy.

In fact, Mrs. ‘A’ (the girl) herself went to the applicant’s house and asked him to marry her,” Justice Singh observed, adding, “the victim’s statement makes it clear that there is a romantic relationship between the two and that the sexual act between them was consensual.”

“Although the victim is a minor, so his consent is not legally relevant, I am of the opinion that the fact of a consensual relationship born of love should be taken into account when granting bail,” he noted.

“Ignoring the victim’s statement and making the accused suffer in jail in this case would otherwise amount to miscarriage of justice,” the court said.

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