ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mandatory Reporting under POCSO

The obligation on every person to report any knowledge they have of an offence thought to have been committed in violation of the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act raises serious questions related to medical ethics and the privacy of the victim. The implementation of the POCSO in recent times has thrown up the problems the provision has caused, requiring serious reassessment.

A recent judgment of the Meghalaya High Court delivered in the context of the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act (2012) threw up a poignant situation. In Olius Mawiong and Anr v State of Meghalaya and Anr, 2022,1 the high court was hearing a petition filed by a man accused of impregnating a minor girl and thereby having committed an offence under the POCSO. The complainant was not the girl herself (about 17 years old) but her mother who had been “advised” by the police that since her underage daughter’s pregnancy had come to light during a medical check-up, she had to file a complaint under the law. The appearance of the police at their doorstep perhaps made her believe she had no choice and she did set the proceedings in motion, even though she knew that the accused and her daughter had been living as husband and wife for more than a year.

Taking note of the recent trend of high courts quashing POCSO cases in instances of consensual relationships (Kumar 2022), the Meghalaya High Court quashed the first information report (FIR) filed against the accused but not before noting the “peculiar” nature of the case. The court noted that the accused and the “victim” were in a consensual domestic relationship with the full knowledge, if not support of their families, but had only been forced to face the legal system because a total stranger (in this case, a doctor) reported the matter because they were required to do so as per the law, under threat of criminal prosecution.

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Updated On : 17th Sep, 2022
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