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Court warns against Misuse of POCSO Act

Legally SpeakingCourt warns against Misuse of POCSO Act

NEW DELHI: The Allahabad High Court has granted bail to a man who allegedly eloped with and married a minor girl, raising concerns about the potential misuse of the POCSO Act in cases involving consensual romantic relationships between teenagers. A single bench of Justice Krishan Pahal highlighted the challenge of distinguishing between genuine cases of exploitation and those involving consensual relationships. He stated, “While the POCSO Act’s primary objective is to protect children under the age of majority (18) from sexual exploitation, there are instances where it has been misused, particularly in consensual romantic relationships between teenage individuals. The court emphasized the need for a nuanced approach and careful judicial consideration to ensure appropriate justice. The order, dated July 3, noted that the challenge lies in discerning between true exploitation and consensual relationships. Granting bail to the accused, Satish alias Chand, the judge referred to the ossification test report, which indicated that the victim is 18 years old.

Citing previous Supreme Court rulings, including Jaya Mala vs. State of J&K (1982), Justice Pahal noted that radiologists cannot precisely predict a person’s date of birth, with a margin of 1 to 2 years on either side. Satish had been incarcerated since January 5. As per the prosecution, he allegedly enticed the complainant’s minor daughter on June 13, 2023. An FIR was lodged against him under sections 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping and abducting a woman to compel her marriage or to cause her defilement), and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act at Barahaj police station in Deoria district. During the hearing, Satish’s counsel argued that the client was falsely implicated. The counsel stated that the victim, who is a consenting party as per her statement, was 18 years old. Satish and the victim, who were neighbors and in love with each other, eloped and married in a temple out of fear of their parents.

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