National Affairs

Decriminalising Teenage Sex: Supreme Court seeks Centre’s Response

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking to decriminalize consensual sex by teenagers. This is called the Romeo-Juliet law. 

Many countries of the world have adopted this law. Now the demand has started rising in India too. 

The Supreme Court, while hearing this petition, has sought an answer from the Central Government. 

In fact, under the current law, if a minor boy and a girl have physical relations with each other and the girl becomes pregnant, then the minor boy is arrested on charges of rape. 

The petitioner states that it is wrong to blame only one party (the boy) every time in this case.

 The case was heard by the bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud. 

Petitioner Harsh Vibhor Singhal, a lawyer by profession, argued in the court that the arrest of boys who are 18 years or older for having consensual sex with girls in the age group of 16-18 years is wrong. 

Referring to a study conducted by the Ministry of Health, he said that women in the age group of 25-49 years in the country had their first physical relationship before the age of 15 years. 

Similarly, 39 per cent women had first sexual intercourse before the age of 18.

What is Romeo-Juliet law? 

Many countries have adopted the Romeo-Juliet law at present. According to this law, charges of statutory rape can apply in case of juvenile sex only if the girl is a minor and the boy is an adult.

 In simple words, the purpose of this law is to save boys from arrest. According to the provision made in this law, if the age of a boy is not more than four years than a minor girl, then he will not be considered guilty in a relationship made with mutual consent. 

What is POCSO Act

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act ie POCSO was brought in the year 2012 to curb sexual offenses against children in the country. 

Its purpose is to protect boys and girls under the age of 18 from crimes related to sexual harassment and obscenity. 

The consent of a child below 18 years of age is immaterial under this law.

 In such a situation, if a person has sex with a person under age, then he will be considered guilty of sexual harassment. 

Apart from this, according to Section 375 of the IPC, having sex with a boy below the age of 16 years is considered rape, even if the relationship is consensual. 

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