Chennai: The Supreme Court stayed a Bombay High Court order that acquitted a man under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The Bombay High Court had observed groping without skin-to-skin contact cannot be termed as sexual assault.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian stayed the High Court order after Attorney General K K Venugopal mentioned the matter.
The top court also issued notice to Maharashtra government and permitted the AG to file an appeal against the 19 January verdict of Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court.
On 19 January, the High Court had said that groping a minor’s breast without ‘skin to skin contact’ cannot be termed as sexual assault as defined under the POCSO Act. The High Court had modified the order of a sessions court, which had sentenced a 39-year-old man to three years of imprisonment for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.
It held that since the man groped her without removing her clothes, the offence cannot be termed as sexual assault and, instead, constitutes the offence of outraging a woman’s modesty under IPC section 354.