HC Quashes POCSO Case Against Boyfriend Saying 16-Year-Old Capable of Making Conscious Decision About Sex
In a significant ruling, the High Court of Meghalaya, headed by Justice W. Diengdoh, has quashed the proceedings in a POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) case, emphasizing the importance of considering the consent and understanding of minors involved in relationships.
The case, titled Shri. John Franklin Shylla vs. State of Meghalaya & Anr., saw the court reach a decision based on the peculiar facts and circumstances presented.
The petitioner, Mr. John Franklin Shylla, was accused in Special (POCSO) Case No. 5 of 2021 under Section 3(a)/4 of the POCSO Act, 2012. The case revolved around a relationship between Mr. Shylla and a minor girl, the daughter of respondent No. 2. The alleged incidents occurred in 2020 when Mr. Shylla, working at various households, became acquainted with the victim.
According to the petitioner’s counsel, the relationship between Mr. Shylla and the minor girl was consensual and involved a boyfriend-girlfriend dynamic. It was argued that there was no element of sexual assault, as affirmed by the alleged victim’s statement under Section 164 and her deposition in court. The prosecution, represented by Mr. H. Kharmih, learned Additional Public Prosecutor, conceded that there was no evidence of force involved in the sexual act.
Citing previous legal precedents, the court acknowledged that cases involving teenagers and young adults involved in romantic relationships, despite being contrary to the law, should be considered carefully to ensure justice is served. Quoting the Madras High Court’s observations in Vijayalakshmi & Anr. v. State Rep. By. Inspector of Police, the court highlighted that “the objective of the POCSO Act was not to punish adolescents involved in relationships but to protect children from sexual assault, harassment, and pornography.”