Sexual intent, not skin-to-skin contact, key: SC

What is the News?

The Supreme Court of India has set aside the controversial judgment of the Bombay HC which held that ‘skin-to-skin’ contact is necessary for the offence of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences(POCSO) Act.

Background

The Bombay High Court in Satish v State of Maharashtra had acquitted a man charged with assault under the POCSO Act solely on the grounds that he groped the child over her clothes without “skin-to-skin” contact.

This judgment was challenged in the Supreme Court.

What has the Supreme Court said?

The Supreme Court has quashed the judgement of the Bombay High Court.

The court said that touching a child with sexual intent—even through clothing—is sexual assault under the POCSO Act.

Further, the court said that the most important ingredient for constituting an offence of sexual assault under Section 7 of POCSO Act is the “sexual intent” and not the “skin-to-skin” contact with the child.

Hence, limiting the ambit of “touch” to a narrow definition would lead to an “absurd interpretation” and defeat the purpose of the act.

Note: Section 7 of POCSO Act mandates that “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”.

Source: This post is based on the following articles: 

  • “Sexual intent, not skin-to-skin contact, key: SC” published in The Hindu on 19th November 2021.
  • Touch with sexual intent is assault: SC” published in Livemint on 19th November 2021.
  • “Skin-to-skin touch not a must for sex assault: Supreme Courtpublished in TOI on 19th November 2021.
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