The Bombay High Court ruled that the act of pressing the breast of a child aged 12 years without removing her top will not count as ‘sexual assault’ as defined under Section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. However, it would count as an offence under Section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
The punishment under Section 354 of the IPC is imprisonment of 1-5 years.
Thereafter, the court acquitted the convict under Section 8 of the POCSO Act. However, considering the act which he committed amounted to use of criminal force to outrage her modesty, the court maintained his conviction under Sections 354 and 342 of the IPC.
The trial court convicted the accused for offences punishable under POCSO Act and the IPC. Thereafter, the accused approached the High Court challenging the said conviction.
The issue before the Court was whether pressing of the breast without removing the top of the child would fall within the definition of ‘sexual assault’ as defined under Section 7 of the POCSO Act.
To constitute an offence under Section 8 of the POCSO act, the act must have been committed with sexual intent and it must involve touching the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or must involve any other act which is similar to the acts mentioned in the said provision.
The court, therefore, acquitted the convict under POCSO Act while upholding his conviction under Section 354 of IPC.