Should the legal age of consent for adolescents be raised?

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses, or POCSO, Act of 2012’s age of consent has been re-examined by the Karnataka High Court.

Age of Consent?

According to the POCSO Act, the legal age of consent for sex in India is 18. Sexual contact with a girl under the age of 18 is considered rape and her consent is not considered to be legitimate.

HC’s Statement

  • The issue of a girl’s permission who is 16 years old but under the age of 18 would need to be taken into account.
  • According to the HC, if it is in fact a violation of the POCSO Act or the Indian Penal Code, then this must be.
  • Sections 366 of the IPC, Section 6 of the POCSO Act, and Section 9 of the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act should be used to charge the perpetrator.

Terms of the POCSO Act?

  • Anyone younger than 18 is regarded as a child under the POCSO Act of 2012.
  • The POCSO Act considers the girl a “child” even though she is 16 years old; as a result, her consent is irrelevant, and any sexual activity is regarded as rape.

Concerns with such consent

  • When consent is disregarded, the accused is subject to harsh penalty.
  • Charges of child abuse are disproven: Several rape and kidnapping cases had their criminal processes invalidated by the courts.
  • The court is frequently persuaded that the law is being abused to the benefit of one or both parties.

Is the law being misused?

(1) Undermining relations of consent;

Disgruntled parents will occasionally bring a lawsuit to prevent a connection between two teenagers or kids who are approaching puberty.

Parents who wish to regulate who their daughters or sons desire to marry frequently employ POCSO.

(2) Coercion for marriage;

According to the study, eloping couples frequently do so out of dread of their parents’ disapproval.

The boy’s parents then file charges against him under the POCSO Act for rape and the IPC or the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act for abduction with the intention of marriage.

Judicial interpretations

  • When dismissing a POCSO complaint in the Vijaylakshmi v. State Rep case in 2021, the Madras High Court stated that the definition of “child” under Section 2(d) of the POCSO Act can be changed to 16 instead of 18.
  • The court recommended a maximum age difference of five years in consenting unions.
  • This, it claimed, will prevent a girl who is impressionable from being exploited or sexually misled by an adult who is much older.

Policy measures

  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which proposes to raise the minimum age of marriage for women to 21 years, is being investigated by a parliamentary committee.
  • Raising the age, according to rights campaigners, may cause disadvantaged women to continue to be bound by social and familial expectations rather than benefiting the society.


  • The government must look into the matter because the courts and rights advocates are pushing for a change to the age of consent requirements.
  • Adolescents must be made aware of the POCSO Act’s and the IPC’s strict regulations in the meantime.
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