The National Commission for Women has moved to the Supreme Court challenging the controversial skin-to-skin judgment of the Bombay High Court that ruled groping a minor without skin-to-skin contact is not a sexual assault as defined under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences. On January 27th this judgment was stayed by Chief Justice S A Bobde after Attorney General K K Venugopal that the decision is unprecedented and is likely to set a dangerous precedent.
The Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Maharashtra Government and also allowed the Attorney General to file an appeal against the verdict on January 19th by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High court.
In its plea filed in the Supreme Court, NCW said that if such perverse judgments are allowed then it will definitely impact the basic rights of women who are victims of such sexual assaults in the society and will undermine the statutory safeguards prescribed by law aimed at protecting the rights of women.
The plea stated that the petitioner is aggrieved with the order and the perverse interpretation that sexual assault under POCSO Act only includes skin-to-skin touch.
The NCW held that a narrow interpretation like this would set a dangerous precedent and will adversely affect the rights of Women against sexual offences.
The high court in its verdict had held that a man groping the child without removing her clothes would not amount to the sexual offence under the POCSO Act but would amount to the offence of outraging a Women’s modesty under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code.
This was the modification of the order of a sessions court that sentenced a 39-year old man to 3 years of imprisonment for the offence of sexual assault of a 12-year old girl.
The Lawyer Body of Youth Bar Association has already filed a plea against the High Court order in the Supreme Court.
As per the testimony of the prosecution and the minor victim the accused had taken the girl to his house in Nagpur on the pretext of giving her something to eat. Once they were there, he groped her breasts and had attempted to remove her clothes.
The Sessions Court has sentenced the man to 3 years of imprisonment finding him guilty under the POCSO Act as also under section 354 of the IPC.
However, the High Court acquitted him under POCSO Act while holding him guilty under Section 354 of the IPC.
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