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Why The Bombay High Court’s Reading of POCSO Act is Problematic

Does groping a minor’s breasts over her clothes make it any lesser an offence than groping her without clothes?

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Does groping a minor's breasts over her clothes make it any lesser an offence than groping her without clothes?

In a controversial ruling on 24 January, the Bombay High Court said that groping a minor's breast without skin-to-skin touch doesn't fall under the definition of ‘sexual assault’ under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act also known as the POCSO act.

These observations came in a hearing of an appeal filed by a man against his conviction under POCSO charges by a sessions court after he was accused of groping a minor’s breasts.

While acknowledging that the appellant did in fact grope the minor, a sitting judge of the Nagpur bench said acquitted him off POCSO charges, saying that groping without skin-touch only amounts to molestation under the Indian Penal Code.

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Although the court upheld the conviction of the appellant under Section 354, the ruling almost immediately drew a lot of outrage on social media from celebrities and other citizens alike.

While some pointed to the irony in the fact that the judgment came on the same day that is observed as the National Girl Child’s Day, others are questioning if it’s a fair deduction of the law.

Doesn't drawing distinction between the gravity of groping a minor's breast with clothes and without clothes defeat the whole intention of the POCSO act? Tune in!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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