Physically & Mentally Developed Adolescent Capable Of Making Decision Of Sexual Intercourse: Meghalaya HC Quashes POCSO Case
The Meghalaya High Court recently quashed a case against a boy booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) for allegedly having sexual/intimate relations with a minor girl.
The High Court while quashing the case reasoned that "...looking into the physical and mental development of an adolescent of that age group, would consider it logical that such a person is capable of making conscious decision as regard his or her well-being as to the actual act of sexual intercourse."
The Single Judge Bench of Justice W. Diengdoh was dealing with a Petition under Section 482 Cr. P.C. with a prayer to set aside and quash the entire proceedings before the Court of the Special Judge arising out of the F.I.R. under Section 363 IPC read with Section 3 (a)/4 POCSO Act, 2012. The High Court noted that the Petitioner came to be acquainted with a minor girl while he was working at the household of the maternal aunt of the minor girl.
The Court noted that in the course of their acquaintance, the two became intimate, and as is typical in a meeting of two young couples, feelings of love started to develop and as such, a relationship ensued in this connection. However, an F.I.R. was lodged by the mother of the minor girl against the boy.
Appearing for the Petitioner boy, Advocate S. Dey along with Advocate S. Deb contended that there is no element of sexual assault involved in the whole episode, inasmuch as, the alleged victim herself in her statement under Section 164 as well as in her deposition before the Court, has clearly stated that she is the girlfriend of the petitioner at the relevant point of time and that it was only on that fateful night on January 18, 2021, that they had sexual intercourse, but the same was with her consent and there was no force involved in it.
Appearing for the State, Additional Public Prosecutors H. Kharmih and S. Sengupta, conceded that the evidence of the alleged victim would suggest that there was no force involved in the sexual act between the parties herein and that the alleged victim has also confirmed this fact in her evidence, therefore, this is a testimony that perhaps there may not have been any element of sexual assault as far as the incident is concerned.
On the considerations made, the High Court held that in similar matters of this kind, involving two young people, particularly if they are said to be boyfriend and girlfriend or said to be married, even though, that would be contrary to the related provisions of law, the fact remains that law must follow justice and in exercise of the inherent power under Section 482 Cr.P.C, it would be appropriate that ends of justice is met and that the said principle be applied considerably in certain relevant cases.
Relying on the decision of Madras High Court in the case of Vijayalakshmi & Anr. v. State Rep. By. Inspector of Police, All Women Police Station, Erode: Crl. O.P No. 232 of 2021, para 12 & 18, the Bench held that "Though the alleged victim girl is a minor as admitted by her in her statement under Section 164 as well as in her deposition before the Court being about 16 years of age or so at that relevant point of time, this Court, looking into the physical and mental development of an adolescent of that age group, would consider it logical that such a person is capable of making conscious decision as regard his or her well-being as to the actual act of sexual intercourse. Prima facie, it appears that there is no mens rea involved."
Accordingly, the Court allowed the Petition.
Cause Title: Shri. John Franklin Shylla v. State of Meghalaya & Anr.