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”.
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.
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:
I want to respectfully ask the Bombay high court if I slap someone with a glove, does that not count as assault? If I say “tere ton fuddu banda nai dekhya” with a mask, that doesn’t as a nasty comment?
— radical (@MooseJattana) January 24, 2021
Bombay High court,
it wont be considered as physical harm right? i can assure you there wont be any skin to skin contact !! pic.twitter.com/VdOPyFWbP8
— ᴮᴱ kay ⁷ 🦄 ⟭⟬ ⟬⟭ 🐳 (📚) (@THICCMINY00NGI) January 24, 2021
Tw – sexual assault
As someone who has been molested as a child exactly in the same manner that the Bombay High Court doesn't consider an offense under the POCSO act, I will checking if the judicial academy is within the ambit of the RTI Act to find out exactly what they teach.
— chethana (@iamdatemike) January 24, 2021
📣 Follow Storypick on Instagram! Click here to follow @story.pick
A man lured a 12 yr old girl back to his home & groped her. The Bombay High Court ruled that touching her chest is not sexual assault unless he slid his hands inside her top or removed her clothes.
What it’s like to be a girl in 2021.https://t.co/Xu27ZqkFjA
— Dr Charlotte Proudman (@DrProudman) January 24, 2021
Does this mean that fully clothed pedophiles can misbehave & get touchy with minors without being penalised ??
We should be making laws to punish pedophiles & child traffickers; this judgment is so wrong ❌
— Aditya (@Fauladi_Adi) January 24, 2021
Groping without skin to skin contact is not sexual assault – says Bombay high court – how can this ever make sense !
— pallavi ghosh (@_pallavighosh) January 25, 2021
The recent ruling pronounced by the Bombay High Court is extremely disappointing, tbh.😑 https://t.co/XE5UJfgTNp
— Anasuya Chakraborty (@TheTwinedChurro) January 25, 2021
So does this means pedophile and rapist would walk free if they don’t toch skin to skin ?
— मुंगेरीलाल 🇮🇳 (@bluspidor) January 24, 2021
Ironically a women passed this judgement and the wisdom of honourable High court is just commendable you see.!,
— Tvesha (@tveshameless) January 24, 2021
A 39 yo man locked a 12 yo child inside a room, groped her, tried removing her kurti, and covered her mouth with his hand when she started crying, fled when he heard the girl's mother.
They let him walk free because he couldn't finish what he intended to do.
Slow claps 👏👏 https://t.co/sCS0lJ9fXs
— Freida Maggi Khalo🏳️🌈 (@yadudewhatever) January 24, 2021
Seriously, this is so messed up.
And it is more messed up that its happening on National Girl Child Day.
Our females deserve better reforms and law & order otherwise we are letting them down.#POCSO #NationalGirlChildDay2021 https://t.co/bnCyB7M4BH
— Tannu Gupta (@Tannu__gupta) January 24, 2021
Constrained to say that this is absurd & very disappointing. If it’s not appealed by Maharashtra state govt & these observations are not sought to be expunged, it’ll weaken the struggle to protect children from sexual offences. Shouldn’t let that happen at any cost https://t.co/SfPUDDOgPT
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) January 24, 2021
– how can this be differentiated just based on skin to skin contact? Isn’t the violation and mental trauma of the victim same in both such cases?
– what about male minors who do not have the protection of 354 IPC?
– Isn’t this judgement shifting the burden of proof on the victim? https://t.co/r4E0vjW4Qf
— Mahima Dogra (@MahimaD0gra) January 24, 2021
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.