Touching the cheeks of a child without sexual intent would not attract the offence of sexual assault, the Bombay High Court said while granting bail to a 46-year-old man accused of sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl.
A single bench of Justice Sandeep Shinde on August 27 granted bail to the accused Mohammad Ahmed Ulla arrested on July 2020 by the Rabodi police in the neighbouring Thane district.
"In my view, touching the cheeks without a sexual intent would not attract the offence of 'sexual assault', as defined under Section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act," the high court said.
"Primary evaluation of the material on record does not suggest that the applicant allegedly touched the cheeks of the victim with a sexual intent," it added.
Justice Shinde, however, clarified in the order that the observations made by him should be construed as the opinion only for bail in this matter and the same shall not in any way influence the trials in other matters.
According to the prosecution, Ulla allegedly called the girl inside his meat shop where he touched her cheek, opened his shirt, and was about to open his pant. A woman, who had seen the accused taking the girl to his shop, went to the spot after growing suspicious.
An FIR was registered and Ulla was arrested. He is presently lodged at the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai. He was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (PPCSOA).
Ulla in his bail plea said he was falsely implicated in the case by his rivals in business. He claimed that he had no criminal antecedents and was running the meat shop and living in that area for since long.