Tue. May 21st, 2024

The Law Commission has recommended to the Centre that the age of consent should not be lowered from 18 to 16 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The commission argues that doing so would negatively impact efforts to combat child marriage and child trafficking. However, the panel has suggested that amendments be made to the Act in cases where there is tacit approval from children aged between 16 and 18. It proposes the application of “guided judicial discretion” in such instances.

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had previously expressed concerns regarding the age of consent under the POCSO Act. In its report to the Law Ministry, the 22nd Law Commission of India stated that it is not advisable to alter the existing age of consent after careful review of child protection laws and various judgments. The commission acknowledges the issues of child abuse, child trafficking, and child prostitution prevalent in society but believes that the existing age of consent should remain unchanged.

Headed by Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, the panel considered all the views and suggestions provided in connection with cases involving individuals aged between 16 and 18. The report suggests that certain amendments ought to be made to the POCSO Act to address situations where there is tacit approval from individuals in this age group. The panel believes that such cases do not warrant the same severity as those envisioned to fall under the POCSO Act. Therefore, it recommends the introduction of guided judicial discretion in sentencing to ensure a balanced approach that safeguards the best interests of the child.

It is important to note that the Law Commission’s recommendations are not binding. The government will study and consider the report before making a final decision. Chief Justice Chandrachud previously spoke about the challenges faced by judges when dealing with cases involving consenting adolescents engaging in sexual activity. He emphasized the need for the Legislature to address these issues based on reliable research by experts in adolescent healthcare. He also emphasized the importance of breaking the culture of silence surrounding child sexual abuse and encouraging families to report such cases, even when the perpetrator is a family member.

By admin