On Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned the Bombay High Court ruling that there was no sexual assault crime under the POCSO law if there was no direct skin-to-skin contact between a defendant and the victim.
A court chaired by Judge UU Lalit overturned the higher court’s ruling, saying the most important ingredient in establishing a sexual assault was sexual intent, not direct contact with the child, said the Supreme Court.
Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi, said “We have held that when the legislature has expressed clear intention, the courts cannot create ambiguity in the provision. It is right that courts cannot be overzealous in creating ambiguity”.
The Supreme Court, which was hearing separate appeals by the Attorney General and the National Women’s Commission (NCW), as decided on 27 January, acquitted the accused under POCSO saying the breasts of a minor without “skin-to-skin contact” cannot be classified as sexual assault.
The trial court had sentenced the man to three years in prison for the crimes provided for in the POCSO Act and also in Section 354 of the IPC. The sentences would be carried out at the same time.
However, the High Court acquitted him under the POCSO Act and upheld his Section 354 IPC conviction.