‘Skin to skin contact for sexual assault under POCSO’ judgement has far reaching penalties: Attorney General to SC

The Attorney General for India KK Venugopal urged the Supreme Court on Tuesday to reverse the controversial judgment of the Bombay High Court during which it held that the offence of sexual assault below POCSO won’t be attracted if there is no such thing as a direct ‘skin to skin’ contact between the accused and the kid.  

On January 19, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court 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” below the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Urging the Supreme Court on Tuesday to reverse the impugned judgment, the Attorney General acknowledged that the choose had didn’t see “the far-reaching consequences” of the decision and known as it a “dangerous and outrageous precedent.”

“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 outrageous. Saying that skin-to-skin contact is required would mean a person wearing gloves getting an acquittal,” Venugopal stated.

A bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi was listening to the Attorney General’s plea towards Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala‘s judgment. The State of Maharashtra’s counsel Rahul Chitnis backed Venugopal’s arguments.

What does the Bombay High Court order say?

The excessive courtroom had reversed the choice of a periods courtroom, which had convicted a 39-year-old man below Section eight of the POCSO Act, and sentenced him to 3 years in jail. Section eight prescribes the punishment for the offence of sexual assault outlined in Section 7 of the Act.

In her verdict, Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala stated: “As such, there is no direct physical contact i.e. skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration”. The bench noticed that “the act of pressing breast can be a criminal force to a woman/ girl with the intention to outrage her modesty.”

“In view of the above discussion, this Court holds that the appellant is acquitted under Section 8 of the POCSO Act and convicted under minor offence u/s 354 of IPC and sentenced him to undergo RI,” the choose stated.

What did the Supreme Court say?

On January 27, the Supreme Court had stayed the Bombay High Court order. The National Commission for Women additionally filed a separate enchantment towards the judgment. On August 6, the Supreme Court had appointed Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave as an amicus curiae within the matter.

Since the accused didn’t have an advocate regardless of service of discover on Tuesday, the bench ordered the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee to make sure illustration. The matter has been posted for ultimate listening to on September 14, together with a plea towards one other Bombay High Court judgement, which held that acts like “holding the hands of a minor” and the accused “opening of zip of the pant” doesn’t quantity to sexual assault below the POCSO Act.

— With inputs from LiveLaw

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