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POCSO not meant to criminalise consensual relationships: Delhi HC

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has observed that the intention of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is to protect children minor from sexual exploitation and that it was never meant to criminalise consensual romantic relationships between young adults.

“In my opinion 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,” Justice Jasmeet Singh mentioned while granting bail to an accused in POCSO cum rape case.

The Delhi High Court judge also indicated that there can be circumstances where the survior of a sexual offence, can be forced to reach a compromise. Hence each case must be looked into on the basis of the facts and circumstances, the judge added.

The 17-year-old told the judge that she married the (bail) applicant on her own will, she wanted to stay with him and there were no pressure on her to make such decisions. The judge then held that it was not a case of coerced relationship between the accused and the victim.

The court noted that it was the girl who went to the applicant and asked him to marry her. It further said that the applicant and the girl were in a romantic relationship and were having consensual sex. The judge said that victim was minor and her statement didn’t have legal bearing but the relationship between them and the circumstances should be considered while deciding the bail plea. It said that by keeping the applicant in jail would amount to perversity of justice.

The judge while granting bail noted that it was not a case where the slate of applicant is wiped clear. The court said that it is granting the bail to the applicant and is not quashing the FIR.