Once again,the provision in the new Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act raising the age of consent for sex from 16 to 18 years has been criticised by a Delhi court with a sessions judge calling the move backward.
Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhats comments about the provision being,among others,undemocratic, follows ASJ Kamini Laus remarks that it was regressive and draconian.
Judge Bhat lent his voice to a growing chorus of voices in the media and public spaces. He said the provision in an Act that has otherwise been largely lauded for the progressive thought behind it could end up being a tool for police to harass teenagers.
The judges comments came while acquitting Sandeep Paswan of Uttar Pradesh,who had been charged with kidnapping and raping a minor girl. The girl had eloped with Paswan and the couple got married at an Arya Samaj Mandir in Lucknow.
In my opinion,raising the age limit for consensual sex to 18 years would not only be undemocratic and regressive but also a step backwards. Such a move would open floodgates for prosecution of boys on charges of rape,on the basis of complaints by the parents of girls,even if the girls were consenting parties and the offer to have sexual intercourse may have come from their side, the judge said.
ASJ Bhat said that while he shared the concern of parents of young children and the government about sexually-active teenagers,the law may not serve its intended purpose.
Raising the age limit is not the solution to the problem and would serve no purpose except giving a tool to the police to harass minors, the order said.
The judge also directed to send the copy of the order to the Secretary of the Department of Law and the Chairman of National Law Commission for their information and as a suggestion from the court.
The court said even helpless boys in these cases become victims as they do not understand the consequences of their act and sometimes they are lured by girls.
Such cases should be an eye-opener for lawmakers of our country,who,I understand,are contemplating raising the age limit for consensual sex from 16 to 18 years, he said.