The Gujarat High Court today
directed the Centre and the state government to create awareness about the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act among the youth to desist them from committing offences punishable under this law.
A division bench of Justice M R Shah and Justice A Y Kogje gave this direction while enhancing to 10 years the jail term of a 19-year-old man for raping a minor.
The convict, Ashok Parmar, had an affair with the girl, who was his neighbour. He eloped with the minor, following which her father lodged a complaint against him. Based on the complaint, police booked Parmar for raping and kidnapping the minor.
In April last year, a special court in Devbhoomi Dwarka, hearing cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), held Parmar guilty of raping the minor and sentenced him to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.
However, the state government had sought enhancement of his sentence as he was charged under 376 (rape) along with section 363 (kidnapping) and section 3(a) and section 4 of the POCSO Act for penetrative sexual assault.
The court enhanced his sentence under section 42 of the PCOSO Act which states that when an offence committed is liable to be punished under the provisions of the IPC as well as POCSO Act, then the law prescribing the greater punishment is attracted.
The High Court directed the state government to create awareness about the POCSO Act so that people like Parmar, "who had eloped with his neighbour after a love affair with her", do not end up in jail considering that such affairs could be "two-way".
"Because of such ignorance of the law and having committed the offence, a young boy has to undergo minimum 10 years RI and after 10 years of imprisonment and when he comes out of jail, one can visualise his position in life thereafter," the court observed.
"Therefore, we may draw the attention of the central and the state governments, in the present case the state of Gujarat... to see that young generation may not commit such offence due to ignorance of the consequences of such an Act," it said.
"The state government may also think and create awareness about the above laws in schools and colleges, more particularly to make present young generation/future generation aware of the consequences of the above laws," the court said.
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