New Delhi: The Gujarat High Court has asked state authorities to spread awareness on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 among children and college students.
The court had, earlier this week (29 June), noted that young boys have been finding themselves at odds with the law “without realising the consequences of their acts”.
A bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria said that boys, “actuated by frenzy of the youth, with careless approach”, have been doing things that eventually make them “offenders” under the Act.
The high court was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the father of a 16-and-a-half year-old-girl, who had allegedly eloped with a 20-year-old-youth. While the girl has been traced, the youth was yet to be found. He has been charged with the POCSO Act.
“We are also at pains to learn that though he himself is a minor, has chosen to take away the corpus who is a minor, lending himself in the net of law, particularly of the POCSO Act,” the bench observed.
The court noted that the “right kind of understanding needs to be given, in the form of legal awareness” among children and college students. This will, the bench said, help society protect young boys who turn offenders in serious cases due to lack of understanding of the law.
The district superintendent of police (SP), where the case had taken place, assured the bench that he would speak with the anti-human trafficking cell and the district legal services authority for creating awareness about the POCSO Act.
Girl sent to protection home
The habeas corpus petition, filed through advocate Darshan A. Dave, said the girl from Gujarat’s Mehsana district had gone missing on 17 January this year.
Dave told ThePrint that her parents had suspected her of eloping with the 20-year-old youth. Since she was a minor, her father had approached the high court on 30 January, alleging that the girl had been kidnapped.
She was finally traced last week from the youth’s relatives’ house and appeared before the court through video conferencing on 29 June.
The girl had told the bench that she did not want to live with her parents.
While the court noted that being a minor “her wish would have no relevance”, it asserted that she cannot be forced to live with her parents either. She had also told the court that her parents have tried to marry her off before she turns 18.
The court therefore directed authorities to send her to a protection home. It also asked the SP to ensure her safety and send her for counselling in order to motivate her “to study further and take charge of her life for a better future”.
The parents have been asked to give an undertaking that they would not make any attempts to get her engaged before she turns 18.
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