Pocso Act being misused against teens in consensual relationships, says Allahabad High Court [8.7.2024]

The Allahabad High Court has recently raised concerns about the application of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, especially in cases involving consensual romantic relationships between teenagers..

Justice Krishan Pahal, addressing these issues, noted that the primary aim of the Pocso Act is to protect minors under 18 from sexual exploitation. However, he pointed out that the law is often misapplied in situations where both parties are consenting adolescents. “This court has every now and then expressed concern regarding the application of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences [Pocso] Act on adolescents,” stated Justice Pahal.

He emphasised the need for courts to carefully assess each case involving consensual teenage relationships. Key considerations should include understanding the context, evaluating the victim’s statement, avoiding miscarriages of justice, and exercising judicial discretion, said the judge.

“Courts should use their discretion wisely, ensuring that the application of Pocso Act does not inadvertently harm the very individuals it is meant to protect,” he added.

Justice Pahal further stressed the challenge of distinguishing between genuine cases of exploitation and consensual relationships. This delicate balance requires a nuanced approach and careful judicial consideration to ensure that justice is appropriately served, he said.

The court’s observations came while hearing a criminal bail application filed by Satish Alias Chand. He was accused under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Pocso Act at Barhaj Police Station in Deoria district, Uttar Pradesh. The allegations included enticing and raping a minor girl.

Satish, however, contended that he had been falsely implicated and that the victim was a consenting party, as indicated by her statement recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). 

His counsel argued that the girl and Satish, who were neighbours, were deeply in love. They eloped due to parental disapproval and married in a temple. The couple now has a child. He further highlighted that as per the ossification test report, the age of the victim is 18 years.

The high court, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, allowed the bail application.

08 Jul 2024