Netizens Berate Bombay HC Over ‘Groping Minor’s Breasts Without Skin-to-Skin Contact Not Sexual Assault’ Judgement
Following the verdict, angry netizens started slamming the court for the judgement as some were even shocked to hear the judgement from a female judge.
New Delhi: A day after the Bombay High Court has said that groping a minor’s breast without “skin to skin contact” cannot be termed as sexual assault as defined under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a huge controversy has sparked on social media regarding the judgement.
The judgement was passed by Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Nagpur bench of the high court on January 19, which states that there must be “skin to skin contact with sexual intent” for an act to be considered sexual assault. She said in her verdict that mere groping will not fall under the definition of sexual assault.
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Justice Ganediwala modified the order of a sessions court, which had sentenced a 39-year-old man to three years of imprisonment for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl. As per the prosecution and the minor victim’s testimony in court, in December 2016, the accused, one Satish, had taken the girl 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, Justice Ganediwala recorded in her verdict.
However, since he groped her without removing her clothes, the offence cannot be termed as sexual assault and, instead, constitutes the offence of outraging a woman’s modesty under IPC section 354, the high court held. While section 354 entails a minimum sentence of imprisonment for one year, sexual assault under the POCSO Act entails a minimum imprisonment of three years.
The sessions court had sentenced him to three years of imprisonment for the offences under the POCSO Act and under IPC section 354. The sentences were to run concurrently. The high court, however, acquitted him under the POCSO Act while upholding his conviction under IPC section 354.
“Considering the stringent nature of punishment provided for the offence (under POCSO), in the opinion of this court, stricter proof and serious allegations are required,” HC said.
“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.
Justice Ganediwala further said in her verdict that “the act of pressing breast can be a criminal force to a woman/ girl with the intention to outrage her modesty”.
The POCSO Act defines sexual assault as when someone “with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault”.
The court, in its verdict, held that this “physical contact” mentioned in the definition of sexual assault must be “skin to skin” or direct physical contact.
“Admittedly, it is not the case of the prosecution that the appellant removed her top and pressed her breast. As such, there is no direct physical contact i.e. skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration,” the HC said.
Following the verdict, angry netizens started slamming the court for the judgement as some were even shocked to hear the judgement from a female judge. A Twitter user even wrote, ” I was whimsically thinking that women judges will be sensible and less prejudiced.”
Earlier today, the apex child rights body in the country, NCPCR, asked the Maharashtra government on Monday to file an urgent appeal against a recent Bombay High Court judgment that said an act cannot be termed as sexual assault if there is no “skin-to-skin” contact. In a letter to the Maharashtra chief secretary, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said the words “skin-to-skin with sexual intention without penetration” in the judgment also need to be reviewed and the state should take note of this as it seems to be derogatory to the minor victim in the case.
Here’s how Twitterati reacted over the Bombay High Court’s judgement:
Disgusting to hear what a female judge said about an adult male groping a minor girl in India. No doubt India is one of the worst countries for women : When will India Groping without ‘skin to skin’ contact is not sexual assault, rules Bombay High Court https://t.co/uNr0wykTbV
— Moushette (@Moushette) January 25, 2021
The #Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court has ruled that there must be a “skin-to-skin contact” with sexual intent, and mere groping is not sufficient to be constituted as sexual assault with a minor under the POCSO Act. I’m aghast to read this 😟
— Osshhii (@OSSHHIII) January 25, 2021
This ruling was given by a female judge. That’s all we need to know about India and the plight of its female victims. Old or young.
— Sangita (@Sanginamby) January 25, 2021
A Woman Judge of the Bombay High Court in a verdict says that Groping of the breasts of a minor girl doesn’t amount to Sexual Assault! I was whimsically thinking that women judges will be sensible & less prejudiced. This verdict is beyond sickening & actually justifies Groping.
— Dusky Tamizhachi (@TamizhRatsaschi) January 24, 2021
The act of groping minor’s breast without skin to skin, direct physical contact can not be categorised as sexual assault by law.
That’s means as long as you do it over her clothes, thats just ‘outrage of modesty’.
& we are safe in this country?#BombayHighCourt#women@PMOIndia
— Shambhavi Shreya (@21shambhavi) January 25, 2021
Request ur govt to set rules for women safety. I’m totally shocked by the judgement for minor sexual assault case in Bombay today. …..“Evidently, it is not the case of the prosecution that the appellant removed her top and pressed her breast,’’ said Justice Pushpa Ganediwala .
— abisheya (@abisheya1) January 24, 2021
They say it’s not under sexual assault but comes under sec 354 IPC (outraging a woman’s modesty) and it is a minor act.
I have been a victim of this “minor act” when I was 13, it feels horrible.
That 12 year old girl(whose salwar was removed, breasts were touched) can do….
— Krishki 💕🇮🇳 (@The_kirti_tyagi) January 24, 2021
…nothing coz that was a minor act. That man was sent to 1 year imprisonment and from that 1 year he will spend 11 months on bail. Haha
These acts are increasing coz rules are not strict.
May Krishna teach him a lesson😔
— Krishki 💕🇮🇳 (@The_kirti_tyagi) January 24, 2021
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