The Supreme Court docket has placed on maintain a Bombay Excessive Court docket order that mentioned the groping of a minor was “not sexual assault since no skin-to-skin contact”. Lawyer Basic KK Venugopal mentioned the order would set a harmful precedent.
The Bombay Excessive Court docket gave the controversial order on January 19.
Groping a minor’s breast with out “pores and skin to pores and skin contact” can’t be termed as sexual assault as outlined beneath the Safety of Kids from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the Excessive Court docket mentioned.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala mentioned there have to be “pores and skin to pores and skin contact with sexual intent” for an act to be thought-about sexual assault. Mere groping wouldn’t be outlined as sexual assault, the decide mentioned.
The decide was ruling on the order of a decrease court docket that had sentenced a 39-year-old man to 3 years in jail for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old lady.
In accordance with the lady’s testimony in court docket, the accused man had taken the lady to his home in Nagpur in December 2016 on the pretext of giving her one thing to eat. He gripped her breast and tried to take away her garments, Justice Ganediwala recorded in her verdict.
However he “groped her with out eradicating her garments,” so the offence couldn’t be termed sexual assault however “outraging a lady’s modesty” beneath Part 354 of the Indian Penal Code, the decide mentioned.
Whereas Part 354 carries a minimal sentence of 1 12 months jail, sexual assault beneath the stringent POCSO Act means at the least three years in jail.
The accused man was sentenced for each offences, however the Excessive Court docket freed him of the extra extreme cost.
“Contemplating the stringent nature of punishment supplied for the offence (beneath POCSO), within the opinion of this court docket, stricter proof and severe allegations are required,” Excessive Court docket mentioned.
“The act of urgent of breast of the kid aged 12 years, within the absence of any particular element as as to whether the highest was eliminated or whether or not he inserted his hand inside the highest and pressed her breast, wouldn’t fall within the definition of sexual assault,” it mentioned.
Justice Ganediwala additional mentioned in her verdict that “the act of urgent breast is usually a felony pressure to a lady/ lady with the intention to outrage her modesty”.
The POCSO Act defines sexual assault as when somebody “with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the kid or makes the kid contact the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such particular person or every other particular person, or does every other act with sexual intent which entails bodily contact with out penetration is claimed to commit sexual assault”.
The court docket, in its verdict, held that this “bodily contact” talked about within the definition of sexual assault have to be “pores and skin to pores and skin” or direct bodily contact.
“Admittedly, it’s not the case of the prosecution that the appellant eliminated her high and pressed her breast. As such, there is no such thing as a direct bodily contact i.e. pores and skin to pores and skin with sexual intent with out penetration,” the Excessive Court docket mentioned.