This Court is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of sexual offences being committed against school children. In many cases, the rise in the crime is either students or persons young in age, and the alleged crime is a result of relationships that went beyond love.
The High Court expressed its concerns for young people who are developing as adults. They are unaware of the consequences of having sexual relationships with each other even if they are with consent under the Protection of children from sexual offence and the amended section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.
When it was adjudicating upon a bail application when he commented on the alarming rise in the number of sexual offences being committed against school children, most of them being cases where teenagers indulged in sexual relationships, oblivious to the severe consequences under the POCSO Act.
Young children, irrespective of gender, indulge in such acts, unmindful of the huge consequences that await them. The amendments brought into section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the enactment of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, envisage very harsh consequences for such offensive acts. Unfortunately, the statute does not distinguish between the conservative concept of the term rape and the sexual interactions arising out of pure affection and biological changes.
Although ignorance of the law is not an excuse, the Court found it important that school children be made aware of the POCSO Act. Therefore, the State and the Department of Education were asked to take necessary steps to raise awareness of the same by including it in the curriculum if possible.
For the study of the prospects of raising awareness, the Court suo moto impleaded the State Department of Education, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Kerala State Legal Services Authority into the plea to issue directions for paving the way for better awareness on the statutes concerned in schools in the State.