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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Sorry Bombay High Court, any form of non-consensual touch is sexual assault

Bombay High Court’s statement pertaining to a sexual assault case has left many fuming in range. The HC has ruled out that groping a child’s breasts without ‘physical contact’ will not amount to sexual assault. It is clearly a mere loophole and has been taken advantage of. However, it will fall under Section 354 of the IPC as it outrages the modesty of a woman.

A single bench of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala went on to rule out a judgement as mentioned below. The judgement was a result of Bombay High Court modifying an order by a sessions court. The said 39-year-old was guilty of assaulting a 12-year-old by pressing his boobs and also tried to remove her salwar. The reports come from Bar and Bench and he was convicted by the trial court and punished under the POSCO Act and IPC. However, he then approached the High Court and challenged the conviction.

The judgement that was passed by the Bombay High Court says:

”Admittedly, it is not the case of the prosecution that the appellant removed her top and pressed her breast. As such, there is no direct physical contact i.e. skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration.”

As a result of this judgement, the Justice ruled out that stricter proof is needed, and hence, it falls under Section 354 and not the POSCO Act. Section 7 of the Act, it states: Whoever, with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration, is said to commit sexual assault.

Bombay High Court’s statement would boil anyone’s blood, especially true for women across the world. For anyone who hears about the sexual assault of a 12-year-old, it only makes things worse. It seems absolutely appalling how this judgement has been passed as a result of the accused challenging the decision. The fact is an attempt to sexually assault the girl was made. Hence, a punishment must be given as has been mentioned under the POSCO Act.

Crimes against women have only been increasing over the years. NCRB had reported how the cases of crimes against women went up in 2019 up to 4 lakhs – (the numbers were 3.78 lakh in 2018). The world is fully aware of the staggering numbers as far as crimes against women are concerned. At a time when girls are being taught about good touch and bad touch, such judgements only play against them. This judgement by the Bombay High Court is a decision that takes us one step forward but two steps backwards.

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