The Supreme Court on Friday said that observations made by the Calcutta High Court asking adolescent girls to control their sexual urges were “unwarranted and highly objectionable”, reported Live Law.
The Supreme Court was referring to remarks made by a High Court bench of Justices Chitta Ranjan Dash and Partha Sarathi Sen while acquitting a man accused of sexually assaulting a minor girl. The High Court, while urging adolescent girls to control their sexual urges, had also said that adolescent boys must train themselves to respect women.
On Friday, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal took cognisance of the case on the directions of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud. The bench said that the High Court was only called upon to decide on the merits of the case and nothing else. “ “Prima facie, we are of the view that, in such a case, the honourable judges are not expected to either express their personal views or preach,” it said.
The Supreme Court said that the High Court’s observations violated the rights of adolescents under Article 21 [protection of life and personal liberty] of the Constitution.
The court issued notices to the West Bengal government, the accused man and the girl. It directed the state government to say whether it has filed an appeal against the High Court judgement or whether it intends to file an appeal.
In September 2022, a sessions court in the South 24 Parganas district had convicted him under sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to kidnapping and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The girl had told the court that she had physical relations with the man of her own will, and that she subsequently married him. The girl added that she and the man hailed from a rural area and did not know that their relationship and marriage constitute an offence.
The High Court, while setting aside the verdict of the sessions court, said that the case was about a “non-exploitative consensual sexual relationship” between two consenting adolescents. However, the court said there was a need to guide adolescents about matters related to sexuality.
The bench had said that young girls must protect their right to integrity of their bodies, as also their dignity and self-worth. It also said that every adolescent girl must control her sexual urges as “in the eyes of the society, she is the [loser] when she gives in to enjoy the sexual pleasure of hardly two minutes”.