By LE Desk

New Delhi, March 31: The Supreme Court has decided to examine whether the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act can be employed to punish teenagers for “consensual” physical relationships which later turn “sour.”

A Bench led by Justice Indira Banerjee admitted the case of a man accused of rape while he was 18 years old by a girl who was 17. The duo had a “relationship” while they were school mates. He, however, refused to marry her, following which a complaint was filed against him in 2015. The case is based in Tamil Nadu.

The trial court found the man guilty and sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment under the POCSO Act in 2019.

This was despite the fact that the girl had changed her stance during the trial and stated in court that they were in a consensual relationship.

The man, represented by advocate Rahul Shyam Bhandari, approached the Supreme Court after the Madras High Court too refused to accept the girl’s stand that they were in a consensual relationship.

Bhandari argued that his client and the girl were both “less than 18 years of age at the time of relationship”.

“The boy was a juvenile at the time. Now, the girl and the boy want to settle in life,” Bhandari submitted before Justice Banerjee’s Bench in the apex court.

The Bench has issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government, The Hindu reported.

The man’s appeal in the apex court has sought clarity on the law for punishing minors under the POCSO Act for consensual sex. It said the objective of the Act was not to punish adolescents who are in a live-in or physical relationship.

The apex court ordered the State police not to take any coercive action against the appellant.

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