Orissa HC voices concern over false cases under POCSO Act

Thus, any sexual relationship with a child below the age of 18 years would lead to an offence under the POCSO Act.
Orissa High Court
Orissa High CourtFile photo

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has expressed concern over rise in false cases being filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act while quashing criminal prosecution against the accused in five separate cases of sexual offences under the Act.

In all the cases the accused had sought quashing of the respective criminal cases on the ground that the parties have settled their disputes and they no longer desire to pursue the trial.

The order said that except in one case, where the genesis of sexual relationship between the accused and the victim can be said to be forcible, unilateral act by the accused, in all the four other cases, the sexual act was consensual, voluntary though uncontrolled and impulsive indiscretions out of mutual love and affection.

Four of the cases had ended in marriage between accused and the victim at different stages of proceedings after FIR was registered and chargesheet was filed. The parties are purportedly leading happily married conjugal lives and had approached jointly praying for quashing the respective proceedings.

“In view of the fact that the victims are not desirous of pursuing the matter further, the possibility of securing a conviction is not only remote but it may adversely affect the mental, emotional, and educational well-being of the victim and the happy conjugal and family life they are leading with perhaps one or more children born out of such union,” the single judge bench of Justice Sibo Sankar Mishra observed in the April 22 order.

Justice Mishra said, “In this view of the matter, continuing the proceedings for prosecuting and punishing the accused will have the undesired and self-defeating effect of punishing the victim as well which will go against the avowed objective and purpose of the Act itself.” As per the Act, a child below the age of 18 years is incapable of giving consent for sexual relations. Thus, any sexual relationship with a child below the age of 18 years would lead to an offence under the POCSO Act.

“The POCSO Act was enacted with the ultimate objective of prohibiting non-consensual and forced sexual relationships with children, including child sexual abuse and sexual harassment. While the stringent provisions of the POCSO Act have contributed positively to reducing instances of sexual violence against children, they have also led to an increase in vindictive litigation, with false cases being filed against individuals under the Act,” Justice Mishra remarked.

The Judge added, “The teenage romance often turns into cohabiting consensually and the girl alleges rape due to pressure from the family, fear of the society or when the boy refuses to marry. Since sexual intercourse with a minor is considered “statutory rape,” the criminal case is registered,” Justice Mishra stated, adding, “In change of the fabric of the society, there has been a rise of love relationship wherein one of the parties is below the age of 18 years or both the parties are underage but due to some petty reasons or/and there is rift between them a case is filed invoking the POCSO Act offence.”

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