The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition seeking clarity on the law punishing minors under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 Act for consensual sex.
A Bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee also granted interim protection to the petitioner, against whom a rape complaint was filed in 2015.
“Issue notice. In the meanwhile, no coercive steps to be taken against the petitioner,” the order of the apex court stated.
Punishing teenagers for consensual sex is not the objective of the POCSO Act, said the plea.
The plea also said the larger issue is whether teenagers who are in a live-in relationship or having consensual sex should be punished under the POCSO Act.
The case stems from a criminal complaint filed in 2015 by a 17-year-old girl against the petitioner, who was then 18-year-old, alleging rape, cheating and offences under the POCSO Act.
As per the complainant, the alleged offences took place in 2014 when both of them were minors.
The complainant alleged that the person developed a physical relationship with her on the pretext of marrying.
Later when she insisted on him getting married, the petitioner allegedly refused saying his parents were contemplating his marriage with another girl who may give a huge dowry.
The petitioner, on the other hand, contended that he and the girl had developed a liking for each other while studying in school.
He denied the charges, on the ground that the sexual relationship between them was consensual.
During the trial, however, the woman changed her stance and stated that she was in a consensual physical relationship with the man. The trial court, however, refused to accept her version and in 2019 convicted the man under the POCSO Act. The man was sentenced to ten years in jail.
The man then approached the Madras High Court which also on March 16 refused to accept an affidavit filed by the woman stating the physical relationship to be consensual. He then moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order