State Has Fallen Woefully Short In Imparting Awareness To Children About POCSO Offences: Kerala High Court
The Kerala High Court has expressed concern over the alarming rise in the number of sexual offences being committed against school children. The Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas while adjudicating upon a bail application noted that in many cases perpetrators of the crime were either students or persons young in age.
The Court observed that young children, irrespective of gender, indulge in such acts, unmindful of the drastic consequences.
The Court also noted that statutes such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act didn't distinguish between the conservative concept of the term rape and the sexual interactions arising out of pure affection and biological changes.
"The statutes do not contemplate the biological inquisitiveness of adolescence and treat all 'intrusions' on bodily autonomy, whether by consent or otherwise, as rape for certain age group of victims" the Court held.
The Court further held that "The statutory diktat, on the scope and purport of the terms sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and penetrative sexual assault apart from minimum punishments are most often, unknown to the students and youths."
The Court advocated for consciousness and awareness of provisions of the POCSO Act and amendments to Section 376 IPC from the schools itself. And to that end opined that "the curriculum must of necessity prescribe sessions/classes on the provisions of the POCSO Act as well as the amendments brought into section 376 of IPC."
"The educational machinery of the State has fallen woefully short in imparting the required awareness to the young children about the heinous crimes and its consequences", the Court observed.
The Court impleaded the State of Kerala, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and the Kerala State Legal Services Authority into the plea to issue directions for paving the way for better awareness of the statutes concerned in schools in Kerala.