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Groping without skin contact, not sexual assault, rules Bombay High Court

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The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court has set aside the conviction of a man who was found guilty under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for groping a 12-year-old girl four years ago, committing his punishment.

“In view of the above discussion, this court holds that the appellant is acquitted under Section 8 of the Pocso Act and convicted under minor offence u/s 354 of IPC {Indian Penal Code} and sentenced him to undergo RI (rigorous imprisonment). for one year and to pay fine of ₹500/-, in default of fine to suffer RI for one month. The sentence for the offence punishable under Section 342 of the IPC i.e. six months and fine of ₹500/-, in default to suffer RI for one month, is maintained,” noted the bench.

The POCSO Act defines sexual assault as when someone “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”.

The court, in its verdict, held that this “physical contact” mentioned in the definition of sexual assault must be “skin to skin” or direct physical contact.

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