0

The POCSO Act is not intended to treat adolescents’ romantic relationships as criminal offences, and it considers the element of consent when determining whether to grant bail: Allahabad High Court

Title: Mrigraj Gautam @ Rippu vs. State Of U.P. And 3 Others

Citation: CRIMINAL MISC. BAIL APPLICATION No. – 45007 of 2023

Decided on: 26.10.2023

Coram: Justice Krishan Pahal

Introduction

In the current case, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the main purpose of The Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is to safeguard individuals under the age of 18 from sexual abuse, and it was not designed to classify consensual romantic relationships among adolescents as criminal acts. The court pointed out that the Act is frequently misused to exploit these individuals, emphasizing that the presence of a consensual relationship based on affection should be a factor to be taken into account when deciding on bail in such instances.

Facts of the case

This case concerns the approval of bail for a defendant who was charged under Sections 363, 366 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Sections 7/8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The accused’s legal representative argued before the court that the applicant had been wrongly accused in this case with the intention of subjecting them to unwarranted harassment and victimization.

Court’s observation and analysis

In this case, the Allahabad High Court emphasized that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was created with the primary purpose of safeguarding individuals under the age of 18 from sexual exploitation, not to label consensual romantic relationships among adolescents as criminal activities. The court noted that the Act is increasingly being misused for exploitation. Justice Krishan Pahal stressed that when considering bail in such cases, the presence of a consensual relationship based on love should be taken into account. The court also stated that it would be a miscarriage of justice if the victim’s statement in such cases is disregarded, leading to the accused being unjustly incarcerated.

Regarding the victim’s age, it was argued that her school leaving certificate from a local school should not be used as evidence, and no ossification test had been performed on the girl. It was also pointed out that the accused had no criminal history and had been in jail since May 2023. Taking into account the nature of the offense, the evidence on record regarding the accused’s involvement, the victim’s statement, and the broader principles of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the Court granted bail to the accused.

“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”

Written by- Amrita Rout

click here to read judgement