The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday stayed the controversial order of Bombay High Court that said the groping of a minor’s chest was “not sexual assault since no skin-to-skin contact” happened under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The order was passed last week by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. Earlier the court said since he groped her without removing her clothes, the offence cannot be termed as sexual assault, instead, constitutes the offence of outraging a woman’s modesty under IPC section 354.
The high court has hence acquitted him under the POCSO Act while upholding his conviction under IPC section 354. “The act of pressing of breast of the child aged 12 years, in the absence of any specific detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside the top and pressed her breast, would not fall in the definition of sexual assault,” it said.
According to the prosecution, the accused had lured the minor to his house in Nagpur on the pretext of giving her something to eat. Once there, he gripped her breast and attempted to remove her clothes.
It may be also mentioned that by this order, the court has exculpated a man accused of groping a 12-year-old girl, which was reported in February last year, sentenced the accused to three years’ imprisonment under section 8 of the POCSO and under section 354 IPC (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage a woman’s modesty).