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"Sexual Intent Key, Not Skin-To-Skin Contact", Says Supreme Court On Quashing Controversial Verdict By Bombay HC

On a cold December morning in 2016, a 12-year-old girl stepped out of her house to get guava. However, her 39-year-old neighbour took her to his house on the pretext of giving her the fruit. When she didn't return home, her mother started looking for her and learnt that the accused had taken her child to his house where she found her daughter sobbing inconsolably. The accused had not only bolted her in a room but also groped her and tried to remove her clothes.

Also Read: 13-year-old Repeatedly Raped By Father, Cousin, Threatened With Dire Consequences

A trial court convicted him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as also under IPC section 354 pertaining to molestation and handed him a three-year jail sentence.

However, in January, this year, Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted the man saying,

Groping a minor's breast without 'skin to skin contact' can't be termed as sexual assault under POCSO.

The verdict was subsequently challenged and the Supreme Court recently quashed the controversial judgement saying the most important ingredient constituting sexual assault is sexual intent and not skin-to-skin contact with the child.

Also Read: 16-year-old From Bihar, Raped While Out To Fetch Water, Awaits Justice

Talking to NDTV about the Supreme Court's judgement, Sampurna Behura, Director, Bachpan Bachao Andolan said,

The Supreme Court felt that it would set a wrong precedent and is dangerous for society if such kinds of judgements are given. So, the Supreme Court read the whole (POCSO) Act, read the judgement, and went to the facts of the case. By setting aside the Bombay High Court order, gave an order that it's an offence in POCSO and gave the punishment as per the Act.

Over the years a number of laws and policies have been created and amended to ensure the protection of children. However, the lack of understanding and awareness among both the implementers and the beneficiaries are some of the many challenges in the implementation of these laws.

Also Read: 6-year-old Sexually Abused, Brutally Injured In Madhya Pradesh's Damoh

The Training division of Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation is working assiduously to build capacities of law enforcement agencies, government departments and civil society organisations.

Talking about the same, Jyoti Mathur, Executive Director (Training), Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation said,

Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation is trying to work to enhance the sensitivity of the judiciary and also the knowledge of judiciary through training programmes. The training programmes are conducted in cooridnation judicial academies where generally the focus is on all the other laws, especially the IPC and CRPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) procedures. They are the main focus of the training conducted by the academies.

Last year, the National Crime Records Bureau registered 43,000 offences under the POCSO Act.

Also Read: Sexual Harassment Reports Prompt Tamil Nadu Government To Issue Guidelines For All Schools On Students' Safety

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