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Supreme Court Stays Bombay HC’s ‘Skin To Skin’ Order On Sexual Assault

The top court also stayed the acquittal of a 39-year-old man whose jail sentence for groping a 12-year-old in 2016 was reduced by the High Court.

A Bombay High Court order last week provoked shock and a raging debate, as it noted that the groping of a minor cannot be considered sexual assault without “skin-to-skin contact” or if clothes were not removed. The apex court today put the order on hold, allowing Attorney General KK Venugopal to file a petition against it.

The Attorney General had said that the order was “disturbing” and would create a dangerous precedent.

The Supreme Court 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.”

The top court also stayed the acquittal of a 39-year-old man whose jail sentence for groping a 12-year-old in 2016 was reduced by the High Court.

The Bombay HC on January 19 had observed that there should be “skin-to-skin contact with sexual intent” in order to be considered as sexual assault, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court observed in a recent ruling.

The observation came while the top court was hearing the plea of the accused, who was sentenced to jail for sexually assaulting the minor girl.

Mere touching the chest of the minor will not amount to sexual assault unless the accused removes clothes of the victim or slid hands inside the garments, making it a physical contact, the court further ruled.

The single-judge bench of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala modified the conviction of a man while pronouncing the ruling.

Under the POCSO Act, the sexual assault involves committing assault with sexual intent and getting physical without penetration by touching the private parts of the child or making the child touch the private organs of the accused, noted the judge in the court hearing.

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