The Karnataka High Court in its recent order AJ V. State of Karnataka has stayed further investigation in a case against a minor boy who is charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor girl.
The boy has approached the High Court seeking to quash the prosecution on a mutual settlement having been arrived at between the parties, reported Livelaw.
On November 21, 2021 a complaint was registered by the father of the minor girl stating that his minor daughter did not return home from college. The police on tracking the phones of the accused and the victim tracked them. The accused was charged under:
- Section 376
- Section 363
…of the Indian Penal Code
- Sections 5 and 6 of POCSO.
Plea at Court
The plea said both accused and victim are minors and both are pursuing their education. The entire case revolves around two adolescents whose friendship went sour and got entangled in legal consequences, when there is no mens rea.
Further it was said that after many counselling sessions between elders of both families they have taken a decision not to pursue the case in the larger interest of the minor children. The minor children have also reconciled their differences.
The plea relied on the judgement of the Madras High Court in the case of Vijayalakshmi vs State, wherein the case was quashed on the grounds that the intention of POCSO Act is not the punish a teenage boy who is in a relationship with a teenage girl.
It is argued that the petitioner and the victim were good friends and the petitioner who is a minor had no intention to kidnap the minor victim or commit any sexual offence envisaged under the POCSO Act. Further, it is said the POCSO act is not intended to bring within its ambit the romantic relationship between adolescents or teenagers. Yet many youngsters are getting prosecuted under the law and this is one such example.
It is also stated that the complainant themselves do not wish to prosecute the case and allowing the same is only going to be a miscarriage of justice and allowing the case to continue will be nothing short of allowing the system to swallow a minor boy which will ruin his future prospects of a personal and professional life.
The petition prays for quashing the First Information Report (FIR) registered by the police.
Karnataka High Court
A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna heard both sides and stayed the matter. He said,
Till 23.05.2022, further investigation in the matter shall remain stayed which shall be subject to the result of further orders being passed.
The petitioner and the complainant’s daughter are minors even as on date, and were in a relationship, which resulted in the present crime being registered. Advocates Prateek Chandramouli and Vidyashree KS appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the parties have settled the issue and seeks termination of the proceedings on account of such settlement.
However, the prosecution objected to the same on the ground that the offence is under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and settlement cannot be accepted. Following which the court said,
This would require consideration and can be only after ensuing summer vacation, 2022.
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