In its report, the law commission said that it is not advisable to tinker with existing age of consent under POCSO Act. The current age of consent in India is 18.
“Adolescents in the age bracket of 16 to 18 years still remain children who ought to enjoy higher protection of law and the age of consent cannot be disturbed either by reducing it or introducing a limited exception,” the law commission said.The panel, instead recommended introducing guided judicial discretion in the matter of sentencing in cases involving tacit approval of children in the 16-18 age bracket.
“Reducing age of consent will have direct and negative bearing on fight against child marriage and child trafficking,” the law commission said. It also urged courts to tread with caution even in cases where it is observed that adolescent love cannot be controlled and criminal intention may be missing.
“A child can be prosecuted as an adult in cases of heinous offences under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. Offences defined under Sections 3 and 7 of the POCSO Act are heinous in nature and there is always the danger of the child being tried as an adult even though the sexual act had been consensual. Thus, changes are also required to be brought within the Juvenile Justice Act in order to ensure that in such cases of romantic relationships, the child is not tried as an adult and gets the benefit of a trial in accordance with the Juvenile Justice Act,” it added.
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The law panel also put forth a suggestion to establish a centralised national portal aimed at simplifying the registration process for electronic First Information Reports (e-FIRs).
“e-FIRs will tackle long persisting issue of delay in registration of FIRs and allow citizens to report crimes in real time,” it said.
“Due to the march of technology, means of communication have progressed in leaps and bounds. In such a landscape, clinging on to an archaic system of registering FIRs does not augur well for criminal reforms,” the panel said in its report.
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