Verdict and Explaination:
The act of pressing the breast of a child aged 12 years without removing her top will not fall within the definition of ‘sexual assault’ under Section 7 the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), the Bombay High Court has ruled.
It would, however, fall within the definition of the offence under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalizes outraging the modesty of a woman, the Court ruled.
The order passed by the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala, therefore, acquitted a man under Section 8 (punishment for sexual assault) of the POCSO Act. To conclude the case court examined section 7 which states:
“Whoever, 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, is said to commit sexual assault.”
Based on the above definition, the Court concluded that the necessary ingredients for constituting the offence were that the act must have been committed with sexual intent and it must involve touching the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child.
But the question remains that, is this decision going to help us in restricting the sexual offences happening in every corner of the country? Is this going to make women, children and even men in India empower, free, safe and secure? Or it is going to encourage the culprits to assault a 12-year-old or a teenager or an adult just without skin-to-skin contact.
This was just a one case where judge conclude that there is no skin-to-skin contact but there are many more cases and victims which are harassed, groped, assaulted and mugged and without any skin-to-skin contact.
Though we understand the term ‘Sexual Intent’ but then how a less than 12-year-old child would differentiate intentions of culprit without having a Sex Education Chapter 1- Good Touch & Bad Touch. These things should be taken seriously by the HC and the citizens.
Also here are some reactions from social media over the decision of Bombay High-court:
Like what even???
Now I got it good days r coming for Molesters/Rapists
(@sweetkitten07) January 25, 2021
What a shame!! there are 1000’s of sexual abuse happening each day and your rules are now making them more easier for the culprits to do it. Do u even have women in ur house? I wish any women in his family to give a slipper/broom shot to the 1 who made this rule #BombayHighCourt pic.twitter.com/0q0wgxr6eI
— Lakshmi_srinath (@Lakshmisrinath2) January 25, 2021
Mere groping without skin to skin contact isn't sexual assault – Bombay High Court
If you're an Indian girl, please know that You might want to protect your chest better because apparently these men can grope them without sexual intent. pic.twitter.com/YcASkXteL3
— ᴮᴱ₁₃fleur⁷⚯͛/ ia era
(@slythrinsuga) January 24, 2021
This is 2021, where we are heading to. The verdict by a woman judges herself that groping is not a crime itself. And on the other hand, we are teaching little girls and boys about good touch and bad touch. Pathetic, absolutely insensitive. #BombayHighCourt #BombayHC pic.twitter.com/ydBNt2bmCT
— Shivani Bhardwaj (@talkativecacti) January 25, 2021
Wow ….what a decision #BombayHighCourt seriously.. I mean like Pressing someone's private part without their consent whether it's skin to skin or anything else it's still harrasment Really disappointed by this decision. Aap log aise decision nikalo hum time aane pr chappal
— _aahnaaaa28__ (@themermaidscal2) January 25, 2021