The Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat vide order dated 29/06/2020 in a habeas corpus petition related to Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 expressed its concern over the importance of educating minor boys about the provisions of the POCSO Act in order to protect them from unknowingly committing offences under the same.

In the present matter, the Hon’ble High Court was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the father of a minor girl, who had allegedly eloped with another minor boy. While the girl has been traced, the youth was yet to be found. The minor boy has subsequently been charged under the provisions of POCSO Act.

As per the present order, after the minor girl was traced, she denied going back to her parents accusing them of trying to engage her earlier with someone else without her consent so that she couldn’t marry another man after she turns major.

Considering that the minor girl was unwilling to return to her parents, the Hon’ble High Court directed her to be housed at the Women Protection Home, Patan for an initial period of 8 weeks. The Superintendent of Police, Mehsana was directed to coordinate with the Women Protection Home, Patan to ensure her safety and motivate her to study further. The Superintendent of Police, Mehsana was also directed to make arrangements to provide the minor girl with clothing and other basic necessities.

Taking note of the Respondent who is also a minor boy, the division bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and N.V. Anjaria held that the right kind of understanding was needed to be given in the form of legal awareness amongst children and college students so that the society could simultaneously protect young minor boys, who due to their lack of understanding of law, turn into offenders in serious matters.

The division bench thus, stated as follows, “young boys who themselves are not major, owing to their careless approach towards stringent laws, are rounded up to face serious consequences of rigorous punishment prescribed under the law”.

The division bench further directed the Women Protection Home to indulge the minor girl into productive and constructive activities and motivate her to study further or take up some kind of vocational training for her better future. Parents of the minor girl were permitted by the Hon’ble High Court to meet their daughter in the presence of one of the office bearers of the Women Protection Home and with a clear understanding that in no manner she shall be forced to do anything against her wish and will.

The parents of the minor girl were also directed to furnish an undertaking before the Superintendent of Police, Mehsana affirming that even if the girl returns to them, they wouldn’t be making any attempt to engage her before she completes the age of 18 years.

The division bench also lauded the efforts made by the Superintendent of Police, Mehsana and his team in the said investigation, also acknowledging the assistance rendered by Mr. Vyas, presiding officer at District Court Mehsana.