: The Centre told Parliament on Wednesday it has no plan to reduce the age of consent for sex in consensual relationships. In a written reply to CPI MP Binoy Viswam’s question in the Rajya Sabha on whether it is considering changing this age to 16 years from the present 18, women and child development minister Smriti Irani said the question “does not arise”. “The Pocso Act, 2012… enacted… to safeguard children from sexual abuse and sexual offences… clearly defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years,” she said.
The response gains significance as it firmly puts forth the government’s position in the ongoing debate.
On December 11, CJI DY Chandrachud had urged the legislature to take into consideration “a growing concern” about the age of consent under the Pocso Act, adding the “topic is very vexed” and these “category of cases pose difficult questions for judges”.
CJI had urged relook at age of consent under Pocso Act
Speaking at the inaugural session of the national stakeholders’ consultation that focussed on the implementation of the Pocso Act, CJI Chandrachud said, “You are aware the Act criminalises all sexual acts among those under 18 regardless of whether consent is present factually among the minors, because the presumption of the law is that there is no consent among those below the age of 18.”
Irani, too, was present at that December 10 session.
Replying to Vishwam in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Irani said the Pocso Act clearly defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides punishment according to the gravity of an offence. Also, if a question arises in any proceeding before a special court on whether a person is a child or not, such question will be determined by the court, she said.