Bombay HC Says Groping Without Removing Clothes Not Sexual Assault Under POSCO, Faces Massive Backlash

Trigger Warning: Child Sexual Assault.

Recently, the Bombay High Court ruled that groping a minor’s breast without “skin to skin contact” cannot be termed as ‘sexual assault’ as defined under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, reports The New Indian Express.

For it to be considered ‘sexual assault’, there has to be “skin to skin contact with sexual intent”.

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This was ruled during a case in which a 39-year-old man was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old. The accused had taken the girl to his house in Nagpur on the pretext of giving her something to eat. He then groped her and attempted to remove her clothes.

Since the accused groped her without removing her clothes, it cannot be considered as sexual assault, said Bombay High Court, reports Hindustan Times.

Rather, it constitutes the offence of “outraging a woman’s modesty” under IPC section 354, which gives a minimum sentence of 1 year in jail. Sexual assault under the POSCO Act sentences an accused to a minimum of 3-years in jail.

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The court said that “stricter proof” and “serious allegations” are required for the incident to be considered as sexual assault.

The POSCO Act defines “sexual assault” as when someone “with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration”.

The court ruled that the “physical contact” that’s mentioned is supposed to be “skin to skin contact”.

This has caused massive outrage online. Here’s what people online highlighted:

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This comes as a serious blow to those who considered the POSCO Act as a means for children to be safe from sexual crimes. Such crimes leave children with immense trauma which often remain unresolved through their entire lives. To trivialise such crimes based on a technicality is nothing but condemnable.

What do you think of Bombay High Court’s ruling? Tell us.

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