Keywords – Meghalaya High Court, POCSO, Minor, Sex.
The Court believed that considering the physical and mental growth of a minor in that age range, it makes sense to acknowledge their ability to make decisions about engaging in sexual activity.
A 16-year old adolescent can be considered capable of making a conscious decision with regard to the act of sexual intercourse, the Meghalaya High Court recently observed while quashing a case against a person accused of offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) [John Franklin Shylla v. State of Meghalaya and Another].
Justice W Diengdoh was of the view that looking into the physical and mental development of a minor of that age group, it is logical to consider that such a person is capable of making decisions as to the act of sexual intercourse.
“This Court looking into the physical and mental development of an adolescent of that age group (referring to minor of around 16 years of age), 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 Court said.
The Court was hearing a plea under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC) seeking quashing of a criminal proceeding against the petitioner under Sections 3 and 4 of the POCSO Act 2012.
By way of background, the petitioner was working at various households, where he came to be acquainted with the minor girl and they fell in love.
On January 18, 2021, when the girl had gone shopping with her cousin sister, she met the petitioner and both of them then went to his house where he introduced her to his parents. They then went to petitioner’s uncle house where they decided to spend the night and during the stay, they had sexual intercourse.
Next morning, the mother of the minor girl lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against the petitioner under Section 363 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 3 and 4 of the POCSO Act 2012.
Aggrieved, the petitioner moved the present plea before the High Court to quash the case.
It was argued by the petitioner that there is no element of sexual assault involved, as the survivor herself clearly stated in her statement under Section 164 CrPC and in her deposition before the Court, that she is the girlfriend of the petitioner and that that they had sexual intercourse, but the same was with her consent and there was no force involved.
After carefully examining the submissions of the petitioner as well as the previous approach of the Court in such matters, the Court was of the view that though the survivor girl was a minor aged about 16 years of age, her statement favoring the case of the petitioner can still be relevant.
In this regard, the Court placed reliance on the decision of the Madras High Court in Vijayalakshmi and Another v. State Rep. by Inspector of Police, All Women Police Station (2021), and observed that considering the physical and mental development of persons in the age-group of the survivor, it is logical to assume that such a person is capable of taking a conscious decision with regard to sexual intercourse.
“Prima facie, it appears that there is no mens rea involved,” the Court stated while quashing the proceedings against the petitioner.
Written by- Anjali Sudha, College name – Haridev law college, Kashipur., Semester- 6th sem an intern under Legal Vidhiya