In India the “Age of Consent” to come into a sexual relationship is 16. Meaning thereby is the age at which a girl can give consent to sex. In the case of girls below the age of 16 years, her consent is not recognized by the law. Statutory Rape is known as when there is sexual intercourse below the age decided by the law. The Romeo and Juliet laws provide some degree of protection to those who violate statutory rape laws if the minor has consented to the sexual intercourse, and where the age difference between the minor and the alleged offender is less than three years (in many states, the maximum age gap is three years). Many jurisdictions allow consenting adults to have consensual sexual relations with someone slightly older.
Following this, The Madras High Court in the case of Sabari @ Sabarinathan @ Sabarivasan v. The Inspector of Police & Ors. said that consensual relationships between the teenagers of the below “age of consent” that is between 16 and 18 years will not come under the purview of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, because POCSO Act provides no less than 7 or 10 years rigorous imprisonment under the act.
A child in India must be 18 years old in order to be considered a minor.
According to the Juvenile Justice Act, the POCSO Act, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and other related statutes, a boy or girl up to the age of 18 is considered a child. When a person reaches the age of 18, they can vote, open a bank account, and own property. POCSO, however, has lowered the age of a child to 16. There is nothing alien or unnatural about a relationship between a girl under 18 and a teenager or a little older.
The Romeo and Juliet Laws tend to protect that consensual relationship among the offenders of the law. Romeo and Juliet provisions, on the other hand, do not impose such harsh penalties on criminal offenses. They vary considerably from one another. Romeo and Juliet’s provisions typically allow a difference of two to four years between the two characters.
When two minors engage in consensual sexual relationships, they are essentially both victims and perpetrators, although, in reality, boys are disproportionately victims and girls are disproportionately perpetrators. In addition, the POCSO Act sets a minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment for having sex with a minor, and the mandatory minimum sentences under the law leave no discretion for the judge to consider mitigating factors and lessen the sentence.
In the case of Vijaylakshmi & Anr., the Madras High Court also ruled. The court noted that:
Adolescents, who are still undergoing hormonal and biological changes and whose decision-making abilities are still developing, should receive support and guidance from their parents and society as a whole. Seeing these incidents from an adult’s perspective will lead to a lack of empathy, which is the opposite of what should be done. An adolescent sent to prison for this crime will endure persecution for the rest of his life.
There are many more such cases like that, but What really is Romeo and Juliet’s laws is to protect minors to indulge in early sexual activities.