New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday ruled out the age of consent from 18 to 16 years under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, to prevent the criminalisation of the consensual relationships between the teenagers.
Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani stated in the Rajya Sabha that there is no such proposal, in response to a question by CPI member Binoy Viswam.
She dismissed the question with a short written answer: "Does not arise." She further stated that as per the Indian Majority Act, 18 years is the age of majority and the POCSO "clearly defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years."
'Growing concern surrounding this issue'
Only recently, Chief Justice of India Dr D Y Chandrachud had appealed to Parliament to consider concerns on the age of consent, considering teh fact that the "romantic relationships" form a substantial majority of cases under the POCSO Act.
"You are aware that the POCSO Act criminalises all sexual acts among those under 18, regardless of whether consent is present factually among the minors because the presumption of the law is that there is no consent in the legal sense among those below 18.
"In my time as a judge, I have observed this category of cases poses difficult questions for judges across the spectrum. There is a growing concern surrounding this issue which must be considered by the legislature in view of reliable research by experts in adolescent health care," CJI Chandrachud observed at the National Stakeholders Consultation on the POCSO Act organised by the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Justice in association with UNICEF on December 10.
Besides, the High Courts of Madras and Karnataka have also recommended that the age of consent be reduced.
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