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Taapsee Pannu, others criticise India court ruling on sexual assault

Court says groping without physical contact is not assault

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 26, 2021 | Last Updated: 9 months ago
Posted: Jan 26, 2021 | Last Updated: 9 months ago

Photo: Trinette Lucas/SAMAA Digital

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.

Thappad actress Taapsee Pannu said she was at loss for words reading about the judgement.

Activist Amber Zaidi also expressed her outrage.

Journalist June Paul found the court’s ruling hard to believe.

A user tweeted she couldn’t believe the judgment came from a woman herself.

Pakistani legal expert Reema Omer remarked the High Court’s decision was “unbelievable”.

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.

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