Mumbai: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court recently held that the acts of ‘holding the hands of the victim’, or ‘opened zip of the pant of the accused’ would not amount to sexual assault under the POCSO law. The HC however, held that the same would amount to outraging modesty of the woman.
A bench of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala said, “The accused is prosecuted for the charge of ‘aggravated sexual assault’. As per the definition of ‘sexual assault’, a ‘physical contact with sexual intent without penetration’ is essential ingredient for the offence."
“The acts of ‘holding the hands of the victim’, or ‘opened zip of his own pant’ as has been allegedly witnessed by the victim’s mother, in the opinion of this court, does not fit in the definition of ‘sexual assault’,” the judge held.
The bench was dealing with a plea filed by the accused convicted for sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl.
As per the prosecution case, the accused, a 50-year-old man, had entered the victim’s house and held her hand. He unzipped himself too but fled when the child’s mother entered the house.
According to the mother, the child had later told her that the accused had flashed her and asked her to sleep on the bed.
“At the most, the minor offence punishable under Section 354 of IPC, outraging modesty of the woman, is proved against the accused,” the judge said, while acquitting him of the sexual assault charge.
The court further noted that the accused had been sentenced to five years in jail for sexual assault but the same would be commuted to the jail term he had already spent in the case.
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