Consensual sex with a girl, who is below 18 years of age, would not amount to an offence under the newly enacted Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a Delhi court has said.
The court rejected the plea of police and Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) that POCSO Act mandates there must be total prohibition upon teenagers or adolescents from having any kind of sexual relationship.
"I am afraid, if that interpretation is allowed, it would mean that the human body of every individual under 18 years is the property of state and no individual below 18 years can be allowed to have the pleasures associated with one's body.
"But there lies a greater responsibility on all of us, the state including police in spreading and creating public awareness about the impact of girl or boy marrying at a tender age or indulging in unsafe sexual activities," Additional Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma said.
The observations came while acquitting a 22-year-old youth of charges of kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old girl whom he later married.
The POCSO Act treats as child the girls and boys who are below 18 years of age.
The provisions of POCSO Act suggest that where physical relationship had taken place with a girl's consent which is not in the nature of any assault or where consent is not obtained through unlawful purposes, no offence within its ambit can be said to have been committed, the court said.
"In my opinion it would neither serve the object of present enactment (POCSO Act) nor the purpose of criminal laws to hold the accused guilty on the ground that he had sexual intercourse with the girl below 18 years," the judge said, adding that it would not be good for the girl's health if her husband is sent to jail.