The NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) urged the Supreme Court to examine the conflict of Section 375 IPC with Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 as the latter specifies that sexual intercourse with children aged below 18 amounted to rape.
The Section 375(Exception) in The Indian Penal Code says that, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape. The Supreme Court categorically held that sex with a minor wife would amount to rape.
The punishment for being found guilty of committing the offence of rape is also same under IPC and POCSO Act. POCSO Act was legislatively intended to override all other laws.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 deals with sexual offences against persons below 18 years of age, who are deemed as children. The Act for the first time, defines “penetrative sexual assault”, “sexual assault” and “sexual harassment.”
The Act came into force on November 14, 2012, along with the rules framed there under. It is a comprehensive law to provide for the protection of children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through appointment of Special Public Prosecutors and designated Special Courts.
The Act incorporates child friendly procedures for reporting, recording, investigation and trial offences. The Act provides for stringent punishments which have been graded as per the gravity of offence.