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Supreme Court Sets Aside Bombay HC's ‘skin-to-skin Contact' Order; NCW Chief Lauds Move

NCW, which was a party to the petition filed in the Supreme Court, welcomed the judgment and appreciated the observations made by the bench in the POCSO case

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In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Thursday set aside a controversial order of the Bombay High Court which ruled that groping a minor's breasts without skin to skin contact cannot be deemed as sexual assault. 

Quashing the judgment passed by the Nagpur bench in January, the Apex Court held that the main ingredient of Section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 is 'sexual intent' and not skin to skin contact. 

The National Commission for Women (NCW) which was a party to the petition filed by Attorney General Venugopal, welcomed the verdict and appreciated the observations made by the top court. 

Speaking to Republic TV, NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma said, "I appreciate and welcome the Supreme Court's judgment. The NCW was also a part of the petition, filed by AG Venugopal. We found that the judgment of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay HC totally atrocious. I am happy that the SC saw that the judgment was trash and ruled out that even the intent of the person who touches a child wrongly should be taken into account."

Supreme Court quashes HC judgment on ‘skin-to-skin’ contact 

The SC judgment was pronounced by a bench comprising Justice UU Lalit, Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Bela M Trivedi, in the appeals filed by the Attorney General of India, National Commission for Women and the State of Maharashtra against the judgment of the Bombay High Court.

"In the interpretation of section 7 of the POCSO Act, we have referred to dictionary meaning. The word 'touch' is with reference to sexual contact. Physical touch with sexual intent will be sexual assault under POCSO Section 7. The most important ingredient of section 7 is sexual intent and not skin to skin contact," the Bench orally observed. 

"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 added.

Bombay HC's 'skin-to-skin contact' POCSO judgment

On January 14 this year, Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Bombay HC (Nagpur Bench) had held that groping a minor's breasts without the element of skin touching cannot be deemed as sexual assault as defined under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the misdeed would conclude as molestation. The Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal, along with the National Commission for Women (NCW) had challenged the order on the account of setting a 'dangerous precedent'. 

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