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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightPOCSO is not to...

POCSO is not to criminalise consensual romantic relationships between young adults: Delhi HC

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POCSO is not to criminalise consensual romantic relationships between young adults: Delhi HC
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The Delhi High Court said the POCSO Act is to protect children from sexual abuse and not to criminalise consensual romantic relationships between young adults.

Justice Jasmeet Singh opined that the intention of POCSO was to protect children below the age of 18 years from sexual exploitation. "It was never meant to criminalise consensual romantic relationships between young adults. However, this has to be seen from the facts and circumstances of each case. There might be cases where the survivor of a sexual offence, may under pressure or trauma be forced to settle."

Singh made the observation while granting bail to an accused in a case registered under IPC Sections 363, 366, 376, and Sections 6/17 of the Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, reported Live Law.

The alleged victim was 17 years old in June 2021 when she was married off to a man. She did not want to live with her husband and left against the wishes of her family. In October 2021, she came to her friend's (the accused) house. The duo went to Punjab and got married. The woman's father filed an FIR against the friend and he was taken into judicial custody on December 31, 2021.

The woman has also approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking protection from her parents. She said her parents are threatening to cause harm to her and her husband.

Speaking to Justice Singh, the alleged victim said she married the accused of her own will and without any coercion. She added that she wants to stay with him even today. The court stated that this is not a case of coercion. "In fact, she herself went to the accused's house and asked him to marry her. The statement of the victim makes it clear that this is a romantic relationship between the two and that the sexual act involved between them was consensual."

The court pointed out that the minor's consent does not have any legal bearing but she is granting bail considering the "consensual relationship borne out of love."

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