Amid growing criticism of the government’s move to raise the age of consent for sex from 16 to 18 years a Delhi court has termed it a “backward” step, saying, it would give a “tool” to the police to harass teenagers.
“Such a move would open floodgates for prosecution of the boys for the offence of rape, on the basis of complaints by the parents of the girl, no matter if the girl would have been the consenting party and the offer to have sexual intercourse may have come from her,” said additional sessions judge Virender Bhat, describing it an “undemocratic and “regressive” step.
The court acquitted UP native Sandeep Paswan of charges of kidnapping and raping a minor girl he had eloped with and married.
“Such a case should be an eye opener for the worthy law makers of our country, who, I understand, are contemplating raising the age limit for consensual sex between the two individuals from 16 years to 18 years,” Bhat said.
The judge directed that a copy of the order be sent to the Secretary of Department of Law and chairman of National Law Commission for their information and as a suggestion from the court.
This is the second time that a court has questioned the rationale behind the government move. Earlier, another ASJ, Kamini Lau, had expressed similar concern.
With the advent of cable television, Internet and rapid changes in biological factors, children get exposed to knowledge about sex and marital relations at an early age and since alliances receive opposition from parents, young couples elope after which their parents lodge a complaint, Bhat noted.
Senior counsel Geeta Luthra said: “We can’t close our eyes to consensual sex among younger people. This is a stark reality of our society today.
Protection of children is important. The age of consent for sex should not be increased from 16 to 18 years but neither should it be reduced. Sixteen is a fair age.”