In a recent ruling by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, it was observed that there should be "skin-to-skin contact with sexual intent" in order to be considered as sexual assault. The ruling also said that 'mere groping' will not fall under sexual assault.
The Bombay High Court was hearing the plea of the accused, who was sentenced to jail for sexually assaulting the minor girl.
The High Court further ruled that mere touching the chest of the minor will not amount to sexual assault unless the accused removes clothes of the victim or slid hands inside the garments, making it a physical contact.
The single-judge bench of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala modified the conviction of a man while pronouncing the ruling.
The sexual assault under the POCSO Act involves committing assault with sexual intent and getting physical without penetration by touching the private parts of the child or making the child touch the private organs of the accused, noted the judge in the court hearing.
"Admittedly, it is not the case of the prosecution that the accused removed her top and pressed her breast. As such, there is no direct physical contact i.e. skin-to-skin with sexual intent without penetration," Free Press Journal quoted Justice Ganediwala.
"The act of pressing the breast of a child aged 12 years, in the absence of any specific detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside her top and pressed her breast, would not fall under the definition of ‘sexual assault'," the judge held, adding, "it would certainly fall within the definition of section 354 of the IPC, which penalises outraging the modesty of a woman."
According to the report in the Free Press Journal, the accused had lurked the victim on the pretext of offering a guava and then took her to his house. Later, when the girl's mother reached the spot, she found her daughter crying, who narrated the whole incident to her. The women then lodged an FIR against the accused.