The proposed law to raise the age of consent for sex from 16 years to 18 would be "undemocratic" and a "backward" step, a Delhi court has said, adding that it would also give a "tool" to the police to harass teenagers.
Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat said it while acquitting Sandeep Paswan a native of Uttar Pradesh, charged with kidnapping and raping a minor girl, who had eloped with him and married at Arya Samaj Mandir in Lucknow.
"In my opinion, the raise in age limit for sex by consent to 18 years would not only be undemocratic and regressive but also a step in the backward direction.
"Such a move would open floodgates for prosecution of the boys for offence of rape, on the basis of complaints by the parents of the girl, no matter the girl would have been the consenting party and the offer to have sexual intercourse may have come from her side," the judge said.
It's more than once in recent past that a Delhi trial court has voiced concern over the government's move to raise the age limit for giving consent to have sex. The order has come on the heels of another judge, Additional Session Judge Kamini Lau raising similar concerns repeatedly.
ASJ Bhat, however, said it was not in favour of sex among teenagers and shared the concern of the parents of young children and the government, aimed at keeping them away from sexual activities.
"Raising the age limit, however, is not the solution to the problem and would serve no purpose except giving a tool to the police to harass the minor children," it said.
According to the police, the 15-year-old girl had gone missing from her house at Kapashera in New Delhi in January 2011. Her parents searched her but could not get any clue. Her father then reported the matter to the police on February 17, 2011 and an FIR was registered.
The girl was recovered in August 2011 from a village in Uttar Pradesh where she was residing with accused Sandeep as his wife after their marriage.
The court while freeing Sandeep, who was facing trial for kidnapping and raping the girl said, it was clear from her testimony that she eloped with him as they were in deep love.
The judge, in his judgement, added that he himself has experienced that with the advent of cable television, Internet and rapid changes in biological factors, children get exposed to knowledge about sex and marital relations at an early age.
"With the result, cupid strikes them at an early age, before they attain majority and they dream of tying the nuptial knot with the person of opposite sex.
"Since parents are always opposed to such an alliance, may be rightly so, the loving couple elope and solemnize runaway marriage without the consent of their parents," the court said, adding after which the parents lodge a missing report about their child with the police.
The judge also directed to send the copy of the order to the Secretary of Department of Law and Chairman of National Law Commission for their information and as a suggestion from the court.
The court said even helpless boys in these cases become the victim as they do not understand the consequences of their act and sometime they are being lured by the girl herself.
"Such like case should be an eye opener for the worthy lawmakers of our country, who, I understand, are contemplating of raising the age limit for consensual sex between the two individuals from 16 to 18 years.
"Gone are the days when a child of 16 or 17 years of age was immensely immature and ignorant about sex and desire for having sex," the judge said.
The court said the modern day children need to be imparted sex education in schools in a proper and dignified manner so that their curious minds become informed and would refrain them from indulging in such activities and runaway marriages.