Bombay HC Nagpur Bench Holds That Groping a Girl Without ‘Skin To Skin’ Contact Is Not Sexual Assault

The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court acquitted a man charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and convicted him of a minor offence under IPC stating that there was no direct physical contact.

The Complaint

The mother of a minor girl lodged a complaint on January 16th, 2016 in the Nagpur Police station stating that the man in the pretext of giving her guava pressed her breast and attempted to take off her Salwar by that time the mother came and rescued her child. The minor said that when the man tried to remove her salwar, she started crying but he tried to stop her by putting his hand on her mouth.

Charges

The police filed an FIR under Section 342 (punishment of wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with the intention to outrage her modesty), 363 (punishment for kidnapping) of the IPC, and Section 8 of POCSO. Along with the other charges, the Special Court framed charges under Section 361.

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A criminal appeal is filed by Ragde was heard by a single bench of Pushpa Ganediwala. It was an appeal challenging an order of the Additional Sessions Court of Nagpur who sentenced him to 3 years of imprisonment.

After taking into consideration the submission of the prosecution Justice Ganediawala said that it’s not a case of the prosecution that he tried to remove her salwar and tried to press her breasts. He is charged with sexual assault that is a minimum of 3 years and may extend up to 5 years.

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The High Court said that stricter proofs and allegations are required considering the stringent nature of punishment provided for the offence. The act of pressing the breast of the child aged 12 in absence of detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand into the top would not fall under the definition of assault.

The Court remarked that the punishment of a crime would be in proportion to the Crime committed.

The decision of the Court

The bench convicted him under IPC and acquitted him under POCSO. In this case with regard to the act and the circumstances the High court said it would be better fit into the definition of an offence under section 354 of IPC.


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