Groping 12 years old child without removing the clothes is not sexual assault under POCSO: Bombay HC

The Bombay HC in the case of ‘Satish vs the State of Maharashtra’ held that; pressing the breast of a child of 12 years old, without removing clothes or skin to skin contact is not sexual assault under POCSO. The Bombay HC further held that this would amount to the only molestation under section 354 of the Indian Penal Code. The High Court reverses the judgment of Session Court, in which the session court held a 39 years old man liable for sexual assault under POCSO.

The court interprets the ‘physical contact’ under section 7 of the POCSO Act. The court said that the word shall mean ‘direct contact or skin to skin contact’ with sexual intent without penetration.

In this case, there is no strict proof that the accused had removed the clothes or put his hand into the top of the girl and pressed the breast. So, the case cannot fall under the definition of sexual assault.

Under section 8 of POCSO, the punishment for the sexual assault is 3 years. And, the punishment for outraging the modesty of a woman under section 354 of IPC is 1 year.  So, strict proof requires for imposing the higher punishment. So, the court held that it is a case of outraging the modesty of a woman under the Indian penal code. The court further observes that the criminal jurisprudence requires that the punishment should be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime.

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