Purpose of law not to allow offender sneak out: SC sets aside HC skin-to-skin contact ruling

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the Bombay High Court judgement which held skin-to-skin contact was necessary for invoking charges under the POCSO Act.

A bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit said the purpose of the law cannot allow the offender to sneak out the meshes of the law.

The top court said the act of touching any sexual part of a child with sexual intent cannot be taken away from the purview of section 7 of the POCSO Act.

The top court observed that giving a narrow meaning of the physical contact to confine it to skin-to-skin contact, would defeat the purpose of the POCSO Act and this is unacceptable

The bench said: “We have held that when the legislature has expressed clear intention, the courts cannot create ambiguity in the provision.” It further added that it is right that courts cannot be overzealous in creating ambiguity.

The top court directed the accused to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years.

On September 30, the Supreme Court had reserved its judgment on appeals challenging the Bombay High Court verdict, acquitting a person under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, after he pressed a girl’s breast over her dress, on the grounds that there was no skin-to-skin contact.

After hearing detailed arguments in the matter, a bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit asked the counsel for various parties to file written submissions.

The bench, also comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi had said: “Parties are at liberty to file their written submissions within three days. Order reserved”. On January 27, the top court stayed the judgment after Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and the National Commission for Women (NCW) filed appeals against it.

The Maharashtra government adopted the arguments of the Attorney General, who termed the judgment as outrageous and urged the top court to set it aside.

Slamming this judgment, he had argued that a person wearing surgical gloves can feel the entire body of a woman and then he can get away without punishment.

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