Madhya Pradesh High Court: A single bench comprising of Deepak Kumar Agarwal,* J., held that in the present case the prosecutrix was physically and mentally developed and therefore could make conscious decisions with regards to her well-being.
In the instant matter, the petitioner preferred a petition under S. 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) for quashing an FIR registered under Ss. 376(2)(F)(n), 376(3), 315 of Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), S. 5(L)(O)/6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) and S. 66 of Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) and as well as all the consequential proceedings arising out of it pending before Additional Sessions Judge, and Special Judge POCSO Act, Gwalior, after the prosecutrix lodged a complaint against petitioner alleging that the petitioner committed sexual intercourse with her and made video of her after giving her spiked drink where she used to go to take coaching classes and later took advantage of many times in the pretext of viralling the video.
The petitioner contended that a false FIR has been lodged against him as the physical relationship was established with prosecutrix consent and no force was involved in it. The petitioner further contended that there was no evidence of any penetration of sexual assault. The respondent contended that although the FIR is belated, at the time of incident prosecutrix was a minor.
The Court relied on Vijayalakshmi v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 317, where the Madras High Court observed that “a large array of cases filed under the POCSO Act seems to be those arising on the basis of complaints registered by the families of adolescents and teenagers who are involved in romantic relationships with each other. The scheme of the Act clearly shows that it did not intend to bring within its scope or ambit, cases of the nature where adolescents or teenagers involved in romantic relationships are concerned.”
While looking into the physical and mental development of an adolescent of 16 years to 18 years age group, the Court observed that in the present matter, the prosecutrix could make conscious decision with regards to her well-being and appears that there is no mens rea involved.
While allowing the petitioner’s prayer, the Court held that the proceeding of the present case before the Trial Court would serve no purpose in the light of peculiar facts and circumstances and set aside impugned FIR as well as all consequential proceedings arising out of it.
The Court opined that due to social media awareness and easily accessible internet connectivity, the male or female near the age of 14 years are getting puberty in early age and this is leading to the criminal cases where prosecutrix is under 18 years of age, but the adolescent boys are labelled as criminal and are suffering from injustice. The Court requested the Government of India to ponder upon reducing the age of prosecutrix from 18 to 16 years so that injustice should be redressed.
[Rahul Chandel Jatav v. State of M.P., Misc. Criminal Case No. 24691 of 2023, order dated 27-06-2023]
*Judgment by Justice Deepak Kumar Agarwal
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Rajmani Bansal, Counsel for the Petitioner;
Mr. Neeraj Dhamania, Counsel for the Respondents.