The Law Commission has advised the Centre against lowering the age of consent from 18 to 16 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, arguing that doing so will have a negative impact on the fight against child marriage and child trafficking.
The panel has, however, said it considers it necessary to bring about amendments in the Act to “remedy the situation” in cases in which there is tacit approval, though not consent in law, from children aged between 16 and 18. It said “guided judicial discretion” can be applied in such cases.
In December last year, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had urged parliament to address growing concerns related to the age of consent under the POCSO Act.
“As you are no doubt aware, the POCSO Act criminalises all sexual activity for those under the age of 18 regardless of whether consent is factually present between the two minors in a particular case. In my time as a judge, I have observed that this category of cases poses difficult questions for judges across the spectrum,” the Chief Justice had said.
“There is growing concern surrounding this issue, which must be considered by the Legislature in light of reliable research by experts in adolescent healthcare,” he had emphasised.