Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on decriminalising teenage sex

The Supreme Court of India seeks response on PIL seeking decriminalization of consensual teenage sex.

Livemint
First Published19 Aug 2023, 07:38 AM IST
The Supreme Court of India has sought a response from the Centre on a PIL seeking a direction to decriminalise consensual teenage sex
The Supreme Court of India has sought a response from the Centre on a PIL seeking a direction to decriminalise consensual teenage sex(HT_PRINT)

The Supreme Court of India has sought a response from the Centre on a PIL seeking a direction to decriminalise consensual teenage sex. The PIL claimed that millions of under-18 girls and over-18 boys engage in consensual sex but the boy gets arrested for statutory rape the girl gets pregnant and the parents report complaints to police. The Court Centre's sought response on the application of the Romeo-Juliet law in India that protects the boy from arrest if his age is not more than four years from that of the girl. Notably, under the POCSO Act, consent of minors (under-18) is immaterial, and any consensual activity is termed as sexual assault. And, under Section 375, sex with a girl below 16 years is considered rape even if she had given consent.

The PIL has been filed by lawyer Harsh Vibhore Singhal in his personal capacity.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the PIL and has issued notices to Union ministries of law and justice and the home affairs and some other statutory bodies including the National Commission for Women.

WHAT PIL SAYS?

"Pass a writ of mandamus under Article 32 or any other direction in the nature of writ and exercise its powers under 142 to decriminalize the law of statutory rape as applied to all cases of voluntary consensual sexual contact between any 16 to <18 adolescent with another similar age adolescent and with >18 adults...," the plea said.

It said such adolescents possess "physiological, biological, psychological and social capacities, competence to assimilate and evaluate information to understand and comprehend risks, freedom to make informed choices to convey affirmative decisions or otherwise, and have the agency and decisional/bodily autonomy to fearlessly, freely and voluntarily do what they wish to do with their bodies".

WHAT IS ROMEO-JULIET LAW?

Romeo and Juliet laws provide some degree of protection to offenders of statutory rape laws where the minor has consented to the sexual intercourse, and where the age difference between the minor and the alleged offender is less. The law is applicable in many countries. Prior to this law, rape charges use to get imposed in case of teen sex only if the boy was an adult.

However, since 2007, many countries have adopted the Romeo-Juliet Law which protects the boy's arrest if his age was not more than four years from that of the teen girl.

According to the CJI bench, " This grey area of law, a legislative vacuum, needs to be filled by guidelines on how statutory rape laws would operate by assessment of consent of 16+ to 18-year-olds before indicting the consenting adults".

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First Published:19 Aug 2023, 07:38 AM IST
HomeNewsIndiaSupreme Court seeks Centre’s response on decriminalising teenage sex

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