The Centre on Wednesday told the Parliament that it does not plan to reduce the age of consent for sexual intercourse.

To a question on whether the government is considering changing the age of consent for consensual relationships to 16 years from 18 years, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said “the question does not arise”.

Irani was responding to a question by Communist Party of India leader Binoy Viswam in the Rajya Sabha.

“The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses [POCSO] Act, 2012 enacted by the Government of India to safeguard children from sexual abuse and sexual offences,” Irani said. “The Act clearly defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years.”

On December 11, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had urged the legislature to address the growing concern about the age of consent under the POCSO Act.

“The POCSO Act criminalises all sexual activity for those under the age of 18, regardless of whether consent is factually present between the two minors in a particular case,” Justice Chandrachud had said. “The presumption of the law is that there is no consent in the legal sense below the age of 18.”

The chief justice had said that the age of consent under the POCSO Act poses difficult questions for judges in certain cases.

Prior to this, in November, the Karnataka High Court had asked the Law Commission to rethink the age of consent under the POCSO Act.

A bench of Justices Suraj Govindraj and G Basavaraja has said that the age of consent should be looked into given these ground realities.