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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Thank you: SC stays Bombay HC’s order on sexual assault

In what can be a sigh of relief, the SC has stayed Bombay High Court’s order regarding sexual assault. The order stated that groping without skin to skin contact will not be sexual assault.

Justice Pushpa Ganediwala made a rather shocking judgement stating that groping of a minor will not be sexual assault without skin to skin contact. This lead to a massive outrage on social media and also invited a lot of criticism. However, the SC has stayed the order as of now.

Attorney General KK Venugopal filed a petition and called out the judgement as disturbing. In turn, the SC stayed Bombay HC’s order and said:

Attorney General has brought to our notice the judgement… in which the High Court has apparently acquitted the accused under Section 8 of POCSO on the ground that the accused had no sexual intent in committing the offence because there was no direct physical contact – skin to skin. The Attorney General submitted that the order is unprecedented and likely to set a dangerous precedent.

It was when a 39-year-old groped a 12-year-old man that the High Court passed this order. While these were in line with what has been defined in the POSCO Act, it needed correction. Thanks to SC’s stay on Bombay HC’s order, it seems like a small win, if not a big one.

At a time when sexual assault against women continues to be on a rise, such instances work otherwise. None the less, timely decisions such as these, help us reinstate faith in decisions taken by the court. One needs to understand that sexual assault is sexual assault, with or without clothes. As a matter of fact, the word skin is nowhere present in the Act. Hence, the order is rather passed on ambiguous grounds. While the SC stayed Bombay HC’s order, implications for the future must also be laid down once and for all.

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