Nagpur, January 23: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court recently ruled that there should be a “skin-to-skin contact with sexual intent” and mere groping would not be considered as sexual assault. The court was hearing a criminal appeal filed by a man, who was convicted for sexually assaulting a minor girl. The single-Judge bench of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala modified the conviction of the accused.

“Admittedly, it is not the case of the prosecution that the accused 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,” reported Free Press Journal quoting Justice Ganediwala as saying. Freedom of Speech And Expression Not an Absolute Right: Bombay High Court.

The Judge also noted that the act must have been committed with sexual intent and involved touching the private parts of the child or making the child touch the private organs of the accused so that it could be defined as an offence under POCSO Act. In context with the case, Justice Gandiwala said that stricter proof and serious allegations were required. Prostitution Not Criminal Offence, Its Public Solicitation Is: Bombay High Court.

“The act of pressing the breast of a 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 her top and pressed her breast, would not fall under the definition of ‘sexual assault,” reported the media house quoting the Judge as saying. She further added that the act fell within the definition of section 354 of the IPC.

The court said that minimum and the maximum punishment is one and five years, respectively for the act which could be one of criminal force to a woman or a girl with the intention to outrage her modesty. In the case, the court Justice Ganediwala held that the nature of the alleged act by the accused fit into the definition of the offence as defined in section 354 of IPC.

The accused had allegedly taken the minor girl to his house by offering her guava. The man was accused of sexually assaulting a minor girl by pressing her chest and even partially stripping her. The girl’s mother filed an FIR against the accused.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 23, 2021 11:21 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website