The National Commission for Women (NCW) has agreed to challenge the recent Bombay High Court judgment (before the Apex Court) which holds that ‘sexual harassment under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act does not result from groping a child’s breasts without’ skin-to-skin contact.’
The Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) judgment, however, held that such an act would directly amount to ‘assault’ under the Indian Penal Code [Section 354 IPC (outraging the modesty of a woman)].
This statement was made last week by the Single Bench Justice Pushpa Ganediwala when changing the order of the Sessions Court kept by a 39-year-old. The Man guilty of sexual harassment for groping and taking her salwar from a 12-year-old girl.
Background of the case,
According to the December 14, 2016 prosecution complaint, the accused took the young girl to his house under the pretext of feeding her a guava, he grabbed her breast and attempted to remove her salvar. The mother reached the location at that very moment on time and saved her daughter. The FIR was reported immediately. Five witnesses were investigated by the defense, including the mother, the survivor, the neighbor who heard the child screaming, and two police officers.
Under sections 342 and 354 of the IPC, the High Court found the man guilty while acquitting him under section 8 of the POCSO Act.
NCW Chairman Rekha Sharma today posted a tweet telling the Supreme Court that NCW is appealing the judgment of the Bombay High Court in Satish Ragde v. State of Maharashtra(19-01-2021).
In another tweet she said,
This decision would not only have a cascading impact on separate laws relating to women’s protection and security in general, but it would also put all women on the table. The legislative protections provided by the legislature for the protection and welfare of women have been ridiculed and trivialized.
In related news, on Monday (25 January), the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) urged the Government of Maharashtra to file an “urgent appeal” against the present judgment.
The letter written to the Maharashtra Chief Secretary by NCPCR Chairman Priyank Kanoongo states that if the prosecution had made the representations in line with the intent of the POCSO Act, then the accused would not have been convicted of the serious offence against the juvenile.
Further reading says,
It is also important to examine the comment “The remark ‘skin to skin’ with sexual intention without penetration’ also need to be reviewed and the State should take note of this as it seems to be derogatory to the Minor Victim” with sexual intention without penetration and the State should take note of this as it seems to be derogatory to the minor victim.