POCSO Act: In its findings, the Law Commission cautioned against “tinkering” with the current age of consent under the POCSO Act, which protects children from sexual offences. The 22nd Law Commission urged against lowering the age of consent to 16 years in the report it submitted to the Union Law Ministry on Friday. In India, the legal consent age is currently 18.
Unintended Consequences of Lowering Consent Age to 16
The Commission warned that lowering the legal consent age to 16 would have serious “unintended consequences,” including adverse effects on the battle against child marriage and child trafficking. The POCSO Act would become a mere piece of paper if sexual contacts between 16 and 18-year-olds were made less unlawful, it was stated.
Balancing Consent and Protection for Minors
The Commission recommended changes to the Act to make sure that situations requiring tacit consent from both parties are not dealt with as harshly as those that are typically covered by the law. In cases involving tacit approval amongst minors between the ages of 16 and 18, it was suggested that directed judicial discretion be added to the sentencing process. This would guarantee that the law protects children from sexual exploitation while also dealing with consensual romantic relationships among them in a balanced manner.