SC units apart Bombay HC verdict, says ‘skin-to-skin’ contact not wanted for sexual assault underneath POCSO Act

The Supreme Court Thursday put aside the Bombay High Court order that held that “skin-to-skin” contact was crucial for the offence of sexual assault underneath the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

In its order, the court docket noticed that sexual intent is necessary in such circumstances and that it might probably’t be taken away from the purview of the Act. The objective of the legislation can’t be to permit the offender to flee the meshes of the legislation, the apex court docket stated.

“We have held that when the legislature has expressed clear intention, the courts cannot create ambiguity in the provision. It is right that courts cannot be overzealous in creating ambiguity,” the bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Bela M Trivedi stated. It was listening to the appeals filed by the Attorney General of India, National Commission for Women and the State of Maharashtra towards the judgment of the High Court.

In January this 12 months, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court had acquitted a person of sexual assault on the grounds that urgent the breasts of a kid over her garments with out direct “skin to skin” bodily contact doesn’t represent “sexual assault” underneath the POCSO Act.

However, the High Court order was later put aside by the Supreme Court after Attorney General Okay Okay Venugopal introduced the matter to the court docket’s discover and stated it’s “unprecedented” and is prone to “set a dangerous precedent”. “It is a very disturbing conclusion,” the A-G informed the bench led by the then Chief Justice of India S A Bobde. The AG and NCW had filed separate appeals.

“If tomorrow, a person wears a pair of surgical gloves and feels the entire body of a woman, he won’t be punished for sexual assault as per this judgment. This is an outrageous order. The accused tried to bring down the salwar and even then bail was granted… The Judge clearly didn’t see the far-reaching consequences,” the AG had stated. He stated that “touching of the breast of a minor even without removing the top amounted to commission of offence of sexual assault under the Act”.

The case dates again to December 2016, when the 39-year-old accused had lured the 12-year-old lady to his home on the pretext of giving her one thing to eat. According to the grievance lodged by the lady’s mom, the person pressed the lady’s breast and tried to take away her salwar. The mom discovered the lady within the man’s home.

The HC stated that groping a minor’s breast with out “skin to skin contact” can’t be termed as sexual assault, as outlined underneath the POCSO Act. It stated that because the man groped the kid with out eradicating her garments, the offence can’t be termed as sexual assault and, as a substitute, constitutes the offence of outraging a lady’s modesty underneath IPC Section 354.

The High Court verdict, delivered by Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala, put aside the ruling of a decrease court docket underneath Section eight of POCSO relevant to “sexual assault” on youngsters, towards convict Satish Bandu Ragde.