- POCSO covers touch with sexual intent, says Supreme Court as it sets aside Bombay HC order acquitting man for groping minor
New Delhi: The definition of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act cannot be restricted to skin-to-skin touch, and covers touching through clothes with sexual intent as well, the Supreme Court has ruled. It put aside an earlier order by the Bombay High Court acquitting a man who had groped a girl’s breast on the ground that there was no skin-to-skin contact.
“Touching through clothes/sheet with sexual intent is covered in the definition of POCSO. Courts should not be overzealous in searching for ambiguity in words that are plain,” the Apex Court said, adding, “Narrow pedantic interpretation that would defeat the purpose of the provisions cannot be allowed.”
On January 12, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court had modified the Sessions Court order sentencing the 39-year-old man to three years of imprisonment for sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl. The HC ordered that since the man had groped the girl without removing her clothes, his offence could not be considered sexual assault. Instead, it was an offence of outraging the modesty of a woman under IPC section 354.
The SC stayed the order on January 27
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