The Madras High Court said that
The POCSO law does not intend to punish a teenager for entering into a relationship with an underage girl and fighting for parental and societal support for the couple “in the throes of biological change”.
Judge N Anand Venkatesh observed that while the law was introduced to protect children from sexual offenses, a large number of cases have arisen on the basis of complaints from families of adolescents and adolescents involved in romantic relationships.
Therefore, “lawmakers must keep pace with the changing needs of society” and make changes to the law, he said while overturning the criminal charges against a rickshaw driver facing charges under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) for marrying a minor.
“The economics of the law make it clear that it did not intend to bring within its scope or scope, cases of the type of adolescents or adolescents involved in romantic relationships “said the judge.
He noted that the provisions of the POCSO Act, in its current form, would certainly make the boy’s actions a misdemeanor due to its strict nature.
Punishing a teenager who enters a relationship with an underage girl by treating him as a delinquent has never been the purpose of the POCSO law, he said.
“An adolescent and adolescent who are struggling with their hormones and biological changes, and whose decision-making capacity is not yet fully developed, should primarily receive support and guidance from their parents and society at large.” , observed the court.
A teenager caught in a situation like this will surely have no defense if the criminal case is brought to its logical end, the judge added.
Referring to the girl victim’s earlier statement, he said that she “clearly stated that it was she who insisted that the 2nd respondent take her away from her home and marry her due to the pressure. exercised by his parents ”.
With the girl’s parents or family subsequently filing a complaint, the defendant is registered under the POCSO law, the judge said.
Invariably the boy is arrested and subsequently “his youthful life comes to an end.”
Such a person who is sent to prison in a case of this nature will be persecuted for his entire life.
“It is high time that lawmakers take into consideration cases of this nature involving adolescents involved in relationships and quickly make the necessary changes under the law.”
The judge said that the legislature must keep pace with the changing needs of society and make the necessary changes in the law and more specifically in a strict law like the POCSO law.
He stressed that the de facto complainant, the girl’s mother, as well as the latter jointly seeking to quash the proceedings against the man, also accused of kidnapping under the IPC, was “special”.
The mother had insisted that “the past be over” and wanted her daughter to settle in, the court observed.
The judge said there could be no second thought as to the seriousness of the breaches of the POCSO Law and the objective it seeks to achieve.
However, it is also imperative for the Court to draw the thin line that delimits the nature of acts which should not fall within the scope of the law.
“… because the severity of the penalties provided for by law is such, and rightly so, that if applied hastily or irresponsibly, it could cause irreparable damage to the reputation and livelihoods of young people whose the acts would have been harmless, “he said.
“What has become a law to protect and deliver justice to victims and survivors of child abuse, may become a tool in the hands of certain sections of society to abuse the legal process,” the judge noted.
Referring to the studies, he said adolescence was associated with many psychosocial and developmental challenges, including dealing with intense emotions and “first loves”.
With regard to the present case, the court declared that “the offenses are of a purely individual / personal nature” and only concerned the persons concerned and their families.
The court said the second defendant worked as a rickshaw driver for a living and that setting aside the proceedings would not affect any overriding public interest in the case.
It would actually allow them both to settle down in their lives and seek better prospects for the future, the court said.
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