Supreme Court Stays Skin-to-Skin Judgment of Bombay High Court Upon Mention By Attorney General For India
The Supreme Court has stayed the acquittal of an accused in terms of the Bombay High Court judgment which held that 'pressing of breast' and an 'attempt to remove salwar' of a minor would not fall under the definition of 'sexual assault' in terms of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), but would certainly fall under Section 354 IPC.
Just two days after the controversial judgment was passed and faced a lot of backlash, Attorney General, KK Venugopal mentioned the prayer seeking stay on it before a bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, while urging for a stay, submitted before the Top Court that the instant judgment was is 'likely to set a dangerous precedent'.
The Chief Justice of India while issuing notice on the prayer, asked the AG to file a petition in this regard. The same is returnable in two weeks.
The Bombay High Court (Nagpur bench) had held that 'pressing of breast' and an 'attempt to remove salwar' of a minor would not fall under the definition of 'sexual assault' in terms of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), but would certainly fall under Section 354 IPC.
The bench of Justice Pushpa V. Ganediwala has held that as per the POSCO Act, a physical contact with sexual intent, without penetration is an essential ingredient of the offence and that the words "any other act" as stipulated in terms of the section include those acts which are similar to the acts specifically mentioned in the definition on the premise of the principle ejusdem generis.
The bench further pointed out that the punishment of sexual assault under the Act is stringent (minimum sentence of not less than three years) and that the offence alleged must be put to strict proof.
While analysing the evidence stipulated, court noted that it is not the case of the prosecution that the appellant removed her top and pressed her breast, the court has held that Section 7 of the POCSO At which defines sexual assault required there to be direct physical contact, i.e. skin to skin with sexual intent, without penetration.
Case Title: Attorney General for India Vs. Satish
Statute/Point of Law Involved: Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, Indian Penal Code, 1860
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