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'Control sexual urges': SC rebukes Calcutta High Court's 'unwarranted advise' to adolescents

The article discusses the Supreme Court's criticism of the Calcutta High Court's controversial ruling advising adolescent girls to restrain their sexual urges, highlighting concerns about judicial overreach and potential violations of constitutional rights.

Sexual urges advise to girls: SC rebukes Calcutta High Court's controversial remarks on adolescent sexuality snt
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First Published Dec 8, 2023, 6:50 PM IST

The Supreme Court on Friday a critical stance against certain aspects of a judgment delivered by the Calcutta High Court. The controversial ruling had advised adolescent girls to restrain their sexual urges, sparking a debate on the role of the judiciary in commenting on personal matters. The Supreme Court, in response, has emphasized the importance of refraining from expressing personal views and moralistic sermons.

Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal of the Supreme Court highlighted that the role of the High Court should be limited to assessing the merits of an appeal against conviction. Expressing personal opinions or delivering moralistic sermons, the Court argued, was inappropriate in such cases. The judges further criticized the High Court's remarks as "highly objectionable and completely unwarranted."

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The Supreme Court asserted that the High Court's observations were in violation of the rights of adolescents under Article 21 of the Constitution. Taking suo motu cognizance of the judgment, the apex court issued notices to the State government and other stakeholders. The move signifies the judiciary's commitment to upholding constitutional rights and preventing judgments that may infringe upon them.

The controversial judgment delivered by Justices Chitta Ranjan Dash and Partha Sarathi Sen had advised young girls and boys to control their sexual urges. The advice came in the context of acquitting a man convicted of raping a minor with whom he had a 'romantic affair.' The High Court expressed concerns about the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) treating consensual acts among adolescents as sexual abuse.

The High Court's opinion suggested that sexual urges are prompted by individual actions, leading to the proposal of a 'duty/obligation based approach' to the issue. The bench recommended specific duties for both adolescent females and males, emphasizing the duty of every female adolescent to protect her body's integrity, uphold her dignity and self-worth, and exercise control over sexual urges. This perspective raised questions about the balance between individual autonomy and societal expectations.

In response to the controversial judgment, the Supreme Court has intervened, signaling a commitment to reviewing decisions that may have far-reaching implications on constitutional rights. The state government has requested time to decide whether to appeal the verdict, while senior advocate Madhavi Divan has been appointed as amicus curiae by the Supreme Court to provide expert guidance.

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