FPJ Legal: Woman denied discharge in POCSO case, Mumbai court says law applies to women too

A special court on Saturday rejected the discharge plea of a woman accused of sexually harassing and assaulting three children, stating that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) is applicable to female offenders too.

The woman had claimed that Sec 354A of the IPC (punishment for sexual harassment) and provisions of the POCSO Act were not applicable to her as she is a woman. She is accused in the case along with her brother in a complaint registered by the Kurla police station in 2019.

Special Judge Jayshri R. Pulate said in her order that though section 354A of the IPC applies to male offenders, Section 7 of the POCSO Act reveals that whoever with sexual intent touches the sexual organs of the child or does any other act with sexual intent, has to be punished under Sec 8 of the Act. The court went into the definition of sexual harassment under Sec 11 of the Act and said it is ‘crystal clear’ from the definition of sexual assault and sexual harassment under the POCSO Act, that it is applicable to male and female offenders. Hence, it said, that it cannot be said that its provisions are not applicable to the woman.

Judge Pulate further said that from the nature of allegations against the applicant, her prima facie involvement in the present crime is seen as regards sexual assault and sexual harassment of the three victims.

The allegations against the woman are that she would show obscene videos to children, then six, three and seven years of age - the seven-year-old being a boy. She would encourage her brother to sexually assault them, which he would do at an isolated spot after watching the video she showed too. He would make the children act as in the video they were shown. The woman too allegedly had inappropriately touched the children while showing them the videos.

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