Asking 8-year-old if she has an affair is sexual harassment: Special Court

Mumbai: Convicting a 28-year-old youth of the offence of sexual harassment under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a special court said that asking an eight-year-old girl whether she is having an affair certainly amounts to sexual harassment under the Act.

Deciding on the question of whether asking the child, “Tera kisi ke sath chakkar chal raha hai kya (Are you having an affair with someone)” amounts to sexually harassing the child, special judge under the POCSO Act MA Baraliya said in her judgment that asking such a question to a matured girl cannot amount to sexual harassment under the POCSO Act, but asking such a question to a girl hardly eight years old who doesn’t understand what has been asked, is certainly sexual harassment as defined under the Act.

“The girl was so minor, to put her such a question itself amounts to sexual harassment,” judge Baraliya said.

The youth was also charged with offences of outraging modesty under the IPC and aggravated sexual assault under the POCSO Act. The court acquitted him of these charges and said that it cannot be said that the act of lifting the child up by the accused was necessarily a physical contact with sexual intention. The court said that similarly, it cannot be said that by attempting to lift her up, he had outraged her modesty.

It sentenced him to 26 days in jail - the time he had already spent in prison before being granted bail and imposed a fine of Rs 2,000. The court said that for a single sentence he uttered to the child he is convicted and the sentence he has already undergone is sufficient.

As per the prosecution’s case, the child and her mother had gone to the shop of the mother of the accused to buy chicken fry. As his mother did not have change, the shopkeeper had asked the girl to fetch change from her son, who was at home. The accused had given her change and then asked her if she had an affair with somebody. When she denied it, he had told her he knew about it and would tell her father and her father would beat her. He had then tried to lift her, but she had fled.

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