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Holding hands of minor girl, saying her hands are beautiful not sexual assault under POCSO Act
Mohammad Saimullah Vs State Of Meghalaya
Crl.Rev.P. No. 1 of 2022
About/from the judgment:
The High Court held that the act of a man holding the hands of a minor girl, stroking it and saying the same is beautiful, wouldn't amount to the offence of sexual assault under the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act unless there was sexual intent on his part.
The Court held that the intent of the accused is relevant in such cases and an offence of sexual assault will not be made out unless there was sexual intent.
"The alleged incident happened in broad daylight. The fact that the petitioner had held and commented on the hands of the alleged victim girl which contact is probably of a few seconds, the same cannot be read to imply that there is sexual intent on the part of the petitioner. At best, a non-sexual purpose of the contact can be presumed," the judge said in his order dated May 26.
The Court, therefore, quashed the POCSO case against the accused.
As per the facts of the case, the victim girl, who was nine years old at the relevant time, was asked by the accused, a 55-year-old shopkeeper, to fetch water.
When the girl brought water, the accused allegedly held her hand, stroked it and said that her hands were beautiful. The victim left the spot instantly and later a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged by her mother after she informed her about the incident.
Accordingly, a special POCSO court framed charges against the accused under Sections 354 (outraging modesty of a woman) and 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 7 (sexual assault) and 9 (aggravated sexual assault) of the POCSO Act.
The Court while scrutinising the material on record and also the case laws referred by the parties, noted that the Bombay High Court in the case of Bandu Vitthalrao Borwar vs State of Maharashtra had held that in such cases, the sexual intent of the accused is the relevant aspect that needs to be considered.
"In the facts of the present case, this Court is inclined to agree with the opinion of the Bombay High Court and is also of the opinion that the action of the petitioner in holding the hands of the alleged victim girl and saying that her hands are beautiful would not in any way amount to sexual intent and thereby, would not be considered as an act of sexual assault," Justice Diengdoh held.
The judge further opined that since it has prima facie held that the accused hasn't committed any offence as alleged, it is unlikely that he would be convicted.
"In fact, continuation of the proceedings would only be a wastage of judicial time and ends of justice would not be met. Viewed thus, this Court finds that the petitioner has been able to make out a case for quashing the proceedings," the judge said.
Therefore, the judge, quashed the case against the accused.
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