Court says groping without physical contact is not assault
The Bombay High Court ruled on January 19 that groping a minor’s breasts without direct physical contact cannot be considered sexual assault, according to The Times of India.
A 39-year-old man, accused of sexually assaulting a minor girl, was acquitted by the court of the charges. The accused will be imprisoned for one year under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code now that his conviction has been revised.
“There’s no direct physical contact that is skin-to-skin with sexual intent without penetration,” said Justice Pushpa Ganediwala. She ruled that touching a minor’s breast does not qualify as sexual assault in India’s Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, because the accused did not “remove the minor’s clothes” or “insert his hand inside her top”.
The judgement was slammed by child activists and celebrities alike. Mona Ambegaonkar, an actor and activist, said senior journalists should investigate why the man was acquitted.
Shame shame. What a perverted judgement by the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. Who was the man that was let off by this judgement. Some journalist should find out. I am sure there is a story there which will reveal much. https://t.co/N4WxNo1JrL
— Mona Ambegaonkar (@MonaAmbegaonkar) January 24, 2021
Thappad actress Taapsee Pannu said she was at loss for words reading about the judgement.
I tried for long but m still left with no words to describe how I feel after reading this. https://t.co/U8BKFrkhu8
— taapsee pannu (@taapsee) January 24, 2021
Activist Amber Zaidi also expressed her outrage.
On the girl child’s day: Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of Bombay High Court in a verdict says that groping a child’s breasts without ‘skin-to-skin contact’ would amount to molestation under the Indian Penal Code but not the graver offence of ‘sexual assault’ under the #POCSO Act. 😠
— Amber Zaidi (@Amberological) January 24, 2021
Journalist June Paul found the court’s ruling hard to believe.
Are you f-ing kidding me? pic.twitter.com/BBaOQfYdDG
— June Paul (@journojuno) January 23, 2021
A user tweeted she couldn’t believe the judgment came from a woman herself.
Edit: I can’t believe it’s a woman judge who said this.
— 🚜 چھوی / Chhavi 🚜 (@chhavi) January 24, 2021
Pakistani legal expert Reema Omer remarked the High Court’s decision was “unbelievable”.
“Appellant caught her hand, told her he will provide her guava and took her to his house. He tried to remove her Salwar and pressed her breast. She shouted. Appellant pressed her mouth by his hand..”
Court said this isnt sexual assault as no “skin to skin contact”
— Reema Omer (@reema_omer) January 25, 2021
In February last year, a trial court in Nagpur had sentenced the man to three years’ imprisonment. The 12 year old had accused him of luring her to his house where he tried to remove her salwar and pressed her breast. He covered her mouth when she shouted and left after locking her inside.
Her mother testified she had seen the accused leave his house and that she found the door bolted on the first floor when she went looking for her. She took her daughter to the police station where an FIR was filed against the accused.