Mumbai: Catching hold of a woman or a girl and dragging her would amount to outraging her modesty, ruled the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently. The HC accordingly upheld the conviction of two men, who had groped two minor girls outside the gate of their school.
A single-judge bench of Justice Vibha Kankanwadi was dealing with the criminal appeals filed by the two men, who were convicted by a lower court for dragging the girls with sexual intent.
The prosecution case stated that the two girls were on their way to school to attend the Republic Day flag-hoisting ceremony. Their attempt, however, was foiled after the girls raised an alarm and the teachers and other staff of the school came out to help them.
Having considered the case, Justice Kankanwadi said, "The accused tried to kidnap the victims and when they were dragging the victims, they were outraging the modesty of the victims, it amounted to offence under section 354-A of the Indian Penal Code."
"When it was proved that the holding of hands was with intention of sexual harassment, ingredients of the provisions of the POCSO Act are also proved. There could not have been any other intention than of sexual harassment behind holding hands and dragging," the judge opined.
The bench further turned down the request of the two men to consider the time they had already spent in jail as the final punishment. The court refused to grant any relief, noting that such cases against women had escalated recently.
"They had tried to kidnap the girls aged 16 and 14 respectively," Justice Kankanwadi noted, adding, "When offences against women are on the rise, especially the kidnapping of girls and then in certain cases, the offence of rape is on the rise, then such acts are required to be sternly dealt with."
"The provisions of POCSO are made especially to protect minors from any kind of sexual assault. Then the aggravation that is required to be considered should be considered at the time of imposing punishment," the judge added, upholding the conviction.