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Don’t rush to arrest POCSO accused in cases involving mutual romantic relationships: Tamil Nadu DGP

The decision comes in the wake of a state-level consultation meeting involving the Juvenile Justice Committee, the POCSO committee of the Madras HC, and other stakeholders in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

The officers have also been told to record the reason for not arresting the accused in the case diary.

Tamil Nadu Director General of Police (DGP) C Sylendra Babu has issued a circular instructing police officials not to show haste in arresting youths in cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as many such cases involve mutually consenting romantic relationships.

The decision comes in the wake of a state-level consultation meeting involving the Juvenile Justice Committee, the POCSO committee of the Madras High Court, and other stakeholders in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry with regard to implementation of the POCSO Act.

In the circular, the DGP informed police officers “not to show haste in effecting arrest of the accused in mutual romantic cases”. Instead, they have been asked to “issue a notice under section 41-4 of CrPC to the person concerned for inquiry”.

The officers have also been told to record the reason for not arresting the accused in the case diary. “Resort to arrest only with the permission of the Superintendent of Police/Deputy Commissioner of Police,” the DGP said.

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The committee noted that “close to 60 per cent of POCSO cases that are registered relate to mutual romantic relationships on account of which for the sin of falling in love with a girl below 18 years of age, the male is criminalised by the arrest and prosecution in view of stringent provisions of the POCSO Act… This is more so in cases of youths in tribal communities in hilly areas.”

In the meeting, it was said that in tribal cultures, it is not taboo for a man to marry a girl less than 18 years of age. When a woman goes for delivery of the baby to the government hospital, the police are informed, a POCSO case is registered and the man gets arrested. The committee claimed that if this continues, women will not visit the hospital for delivery and would avail of the services of tribal midwives.

“Adivasis and tribals will get more alienated from the mainstream society which is not conducive for the state,” the committee said.

First published on: 05-12-2022 at 12:53 IST
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