DATE OF JUDGEMENT:
Justice Pushpa V. Ganediwala
Satish Ragde (Appellant)
State of Maharashtra (Respondent)
The Bombay High Court in this case held that direct skin to skin contact is essential to constitute sexual assault under POCSO Act.
- The accused Satish Ragde assaulted a young girl by luring her into his house and groping her breasts. The accused was caught by the victim's mother and when the daughter narrated the incident to her mother, she reported the matter to the police.
- An FIR was lodged under POCSO Act and the Special Court sentenced the accused to 3 years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs. 1500.
- The offender then appealed before the Bombay High Court.
- The appellants contended that in the absence of any direct contact, the accused's proven actions could not amount to sexual assault under Section 7.
- The respondents contended that the accused's actions would amount to sexual assault under Section 7 as his actions were done with a sexual intent.
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
- Section 7: Sexual assault.—Whoever, with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the childor makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does anyother act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexualassault.
- Whether the accused was guilty under Sections 6 and 7 of the POCSO Act?
- Whether assault without skin-to-skin contact was within the definition of sexual assault provided under the POCSO?
- The Bombay High Court held that the testimonies of the mother and the victim were consistent and reliable under Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act.
- The Court, however, held that in the absence of a direct contact, the case would not amount to sexual assault under Section 7 of the POCSO Act and would rather come within Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code and the accused would be guilty of outraging the modesty of a women.
- The bench thus convicted the accused under Sections 342 and 354 of Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to 1 year of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of rupees 500.
The Court must not have gone into the literal meaning of the statutes and should have interpreted the statute keeping in mind the intention of the legislation. The judgment of the Bombay High Court was subsequently set aside by the Supreme Court. This judgment was stayed by the SC and set aside the judgment. It held that the main ingredient for sexual assault is sexual intent and not skin to skin contact.
The Supreme Court has held that direct skin to skin contact is not necessary to constitute sexual assault under section 7. The Supreme Court held that direct contact is not essential and indirect touch would also amount to sexual assault under POCSO.
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