Bombay High Court on January 19 stated that without any skin-to-skin contact, groping the breasts of minors would not be considered sexual assault. As strange as it may sound, the judgment was passed by a lady of Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court namely Justice Pushpa Ganediwala.
As the crimes against women are increasing day-by-day in India and the demands of cruel punishment to such accused is being made, this judgment came as a shock.
Judgments like these could prove to be a factor in the increase in crimes as it came as a relief for some offenders.
According to the NCRB report, more than 13,000 cases were reported online to the National cybercrime reporting portal of child pornography/rape and gang rape complaints.
It is a shocking count that implies that even in lockdown these cases didn’t stop also supporting the fact that, most of the minors are under influence of sexual violence by the family members/friends.
These cases were reported and we couldn’t imagine the count of unreported cases as most of the minors don’t open about it due to the fear factor.
No positive impact can come out of it as it will only encourage the offenders while suppressing the voice of daughters of India.
Judgment by Bombay High Court
The lady Justice of Bombay High Court gave the judgment in a case where a 39-year old man was sentenced to years in jail for sexually assaulting a 12-year old. Justice Ganediwala in her verdict stated that groping without skin-to-skin contact would not come under sexual assault.
According to the statements, Satish (accused) took the girl to his house on the pretext of giving her something to eat where he attempted to open her clothes and groped her breast.
The sessions court granted him 3 years imprisonment for sexually assaulting a minor under the POSCO Act (Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences).
The Bombay High Court, however, modified the verdict since according to the statements, there was no contact of skin, the offense was placed under IPC section 354 for outraging women modesty.
Under section 354 of the Indian Penal code, the High Court justice could order him of a minimum of 1 year.
Petition in Supreme Court
NCPCR then asked the Maharashtra government to urgently appeal the High Court order while several organizations, including the Youth Bar Association of India, approached the Supreme court against the judgment of the High Court.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian stayed the high court order after Attorney General KK Venugopal mentioned the matter.
The top court also issued notice to the Maharashtra government and permitted the AG to file an appeal against the 19 January verdict of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court stating that, “This could set a very bad precedent and cripple the intention of POSCO Act to punish sexual offenders.
Mr. Venugopal said that in the future, because of the order, an accused could claim innocence under POCSO by arguing that the child he assaulted was clothed and there was no “direct physical skin-to-skin contact” between them.
Reactions of public
After the judgment of the Bombay High court, the public was shocked and outraged by the decision and took to social media to express their feelings.
— Aman Pandey (@aman_nama7) January 24, 2021
Like what even???🙃
— HBD-DARU🎂💞 (@sweetkitten07) January 25, 2021
— Nisha singh (@The_Nishasingh) January 28, 2021