Like Other Countries India Should Reduce Age of Sexual Consent: Bombay HC

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has opined that like other countries of the world, it is high time for our country and Parliament to reduce the age for legal consensual sex.

A single bench of Justice Bharati Dangre made this suggestion in an order passed on July 10 expressing concern over the increasing number of criminal cases under provisions of the POCSO Act, even when the victims, being adolescents, maintain they were in a consensual relationship.

The court made the remarks in an appeal filed by a 25-year-old man challenging a February 2019 order of a special court convicting him for raping a 17-year-old girl although the man and the girl had claimed they were in a consensual relationship. Justice Dangre acquitted the man, noting that it was a case for consensual sex.

The age of consent necessarily must be distinguished from the age of marriage as sexual acts do not happen only in the confines of marriage, the high court said.

The court pointed out that in India the age of consent was maintained at 16 from 1940 till 2012, when the POCSO Act raised the age of consent to 18 years. It is one of the highest ages globally, as the majority of the countries have set their age of consent in the range of 14 to 16 years, the HC said.

It said in countries like Germany, Italy, Portugal and Hungary, children in the age group of 14 are considered capable of giving consent to sex. In London and Wales, the age of consent is 16. In Japan it is 13, the court said.

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