Bhubaneswar- In a recent hearing in the Bombay High Court, a 39-year-old man was accused of groping and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old minor. The hearing dates back to January 19 when a Nagpur bench of Justice Ganediwala modified the order of a sessions court that had sentenced the accused to three years of imprisonment. The High Court recorded the verdict that in 2016 December, the accused, Satish lured the minor to his house in Nagpur. He then gripped her breast and attempted to remove her clothes as per the prosecution and victim’s statement in court. Justice Ganediwala refined the order stating that “there must be skin to skin contact with sexual intent” for an act to be considered as sexual assault. Since the accused groped the victim without removing her clothes, the act cannot be considered as sexual assault due to absence of detailed information regarding removal of clothes. Therefore, the court acquitted the convict under POCSO
Act while recognising the act of the accused as use of criminal force with the intention to outrage a woman’s modesty defined under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code.
This has raised outrage among the citizens. National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma also tweeted “This judgment will not only have cascading effect on various provisions involving safety and security of women in general but also put all the women under ridicule and has trivialized the legal provisions provided by the legislature for the safety and security of women”.
Bagmi Barenya Nayak
Research intern at The Stambh Organization