CHENNAI: “An infatuation of two adolescents had been given criminal colour and one of them has been penalized. Punishing the minor boy who enters into a relationship with a minor girl who were in the grips of their hormones and biological changes which is otherwise normative development in the children, is against the principles of the best interest of the child.”
So saying, the Madras high court has quashed three-year detention ordered under the Pocso Act by a juvenile justice board against a 15-year-old boy.
His crime: He ‘trespassed’ into the house of a 17-year-old girl and committed ‘penetrative sexual assault’ on her. Media and law journals reporting the case have been directed not to disclose the boy’s name.
To maintain secrecy of the identity of the accused child, Justice A D Jagadish Chandira directed them to name him as ‘Agavai’.
“It is unusual and highly unbelievable that a girl about 17-years-old, who must certainly have a higher level of maturity than a boy of 15-years, believes his words, gets misconceived, surrenders to him and has sexual relationship with him so as to marry him,” said Justice Jagadish Chandira, setting ‘Agavai’ at liberty.
“This apart, none of the witnesses has been put to test by conducting a full-fledged trial before the board and ‘Agavai’ was convicted merely on his plea of guilty,” the court said.
Asserting that the juvenile justice system assumes that a child offender is a product of unfavourable environment and is entitled to a fresh chance to begin his life, Justice Jagadish Chandira added that pandemic situation had created a fickleness in the minds of people, and it totally changed human life and their attitude towards even the neighbourhood. It had not only had much impact on the financial status of the public, but also their morality.
“For about two years, they had to be detained themselves inside four walls or within a short circle and after they come out of such rigid period, people with mature minds could cope with their regular world, whereas it appears that teenagers face great difficulties to travel in the distorted path to achieve their goals especially, when the mature world is trying to cope with the financial loss they faced during the pandemic period resulting in a slackness in taking care of the mental health of teenagers,” the court further said.