The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the highly controversial Bombay High Court order in which the court said the groping of a 12-year-old minor cannot be termed sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act without skin-to-skin contact. Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde said the stay would be in respect of the offence under the POCSO Act’s Section 8 and asked that notice be issued to the accused returnable in 2 weeks.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Wednesday brought to the Apex Court’s notice the judgment of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court in which the Court had acquitted the accused under Section 8 of the POCSO Act on the ground that the accused had no sexual intent committing the offence under POCSO on the ground that there was no direct skin-to-skin contact.
Criticising the Judgment, the Attorney General said the order is unprecedented and would set a dangerous precedent. The Apex Court granted permission to the AG to file a petition against the said order. In the meanwhile, the acquittal of the accused is stayed in respect of the offence under Section 8 of the POCSO. Notice issued to the accused returnable in 2 weeks, said CJI Bobde.
The Bombay High Court gave the controversial order on January 19. Groping a minor’s breast without skin-to-skin contact cannot be termed as sexual assault as defined under the POCSO Act, the High Court said. The order had enraged many people who said such harassment cannot be dismissed as not sexual in nature just because there is no skin-to-skin contact.2286_2021_31_801_25690_Order_27-Jan-2021