Nagpur: Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court has held that the act of holding the hands of a minor or unzip the pant of the accused does not amount to sexual assault under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
On January 15, the Nagpur bench acquitted a man of offences under Section 8 and Section 10 of POCSO Act. However, he was held guilty under Section 354 (1)(i) of IPC and Section 12 of the POCSO Act.
The courts said considering the nature of the offence and the sentence prescribed, the aforesaid acts are not sufficient for fixing the criminal liability on the appellant/accused for the alleged offence of ‘aggravated sexual assault’.
Court further added that the acts of ‘holding the hands of the victim’, or ‘opened zip of the pant’ as has been allegedly witnessed by victim’s mother, in the opinion of this Court, does not fit in the definition of ‘sexual assault’.
In February 2020, the victim’s mother came back from work and saw a person holding hands of her five year daughter and taking the child inside a room. The zip of the pant of the accused was open. She shouted at the accused but he did not release the child. Then she shouted again and after that he ran away.
Noteably, this is the same court that recently acquitted an appellant under the POCSO Act ruling that pressing of the breast of a child without “skin to skin contact with sexual intent” does not constitute “sexual assault” under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
However, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed this order of the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court.