The Bombay HC Judgment Which Held ‘Skin To Skin’ Contact Necessary for ‘Sexual Assault’ Under POCSO Act Stays by the Supreme Court

On Wednesday the acquittal of the accused under the Bombay High Court Judgment stayed by The Supreme Court which held that pressing of breasts of a minor girl without disrobing does not amount to “sexual assault” within the meaning of Section 8 of the POCSO Act.

The order was passed by a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India that the judgment which held that ‘skin to skin’ contact is necessary for sexual assault under the POCSO Act is ‘unprecedented’ and is ‘likely to set a dangerous precedent submitted by the Attorney General KK Venugopal.

To file a proper petition challenging the judgment CJI Bobde has directed AG, the Court has stayed the acquittal of the accused under Section 8 of POCSO and issued notice to him returnable within 2 weeks.

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court held that such an act would amount to ‘molestation’ under Section 354 of IPC and not Sexual assault under section 8 of the POCSO Act, in the impugned judgment.

The Single bench of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala made this observation while modifying the order of the Sessions Court which held a 39-year-old man guilty of sexual assault for groping a 12- year-old- a girl and removing her salwar.

Addition in the court holding that, “The act of pressing breast can be a criminal force to a woman/ girl with the intention to outrage her modesty”.

Announcement of National Commission for Women

A few days earlier, the National Commission for Women (NCW) had announced that it will challenge the impugned judgment, stating that the same will not only have cascading effect on various provisions involving safety and security of women in general but also put all the women under ridicule and has trivialized the legal provisions provided by the legislature for the safety and security of women.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Government asked by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)  to file an “urgent appeal” against the impugned judgment. The NCPCR chief in his letter underlined that it seems that the identity of the victim has been disclosed and the commission is of the view that the state should take note of this and initiate necessary steps.

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