NEW DELHI: The apex child rights body in the country, NCPCR, asked the Maharashtra government on Monday to file an urgent appeal against a recent Bombay High Court judgment that said an act cannot be termed as sexual assault if there is no "skin-to-skin" contact.
In a letter to the Maharashtra chief secretary, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said the words "skin-to-skin with sexual intention without penetration" in the judgment also need to be reviewed and the state should take note of this as it seems to be derogatory to the minor victim in the case.
In the January 19 judgment, the Bombay High Court said groping a minor's breast without "skin-to-skin contact" cannot be termed sexual assault as defined under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Nagpur bench held that there must be "skin to skin contact with sexual intent" for an act to be considered sexual assault.
It has drawn the ire of child rights bodies and activists across the country.
The NCPCR chief said it seems that the identity of the victim has been disclosed and the commission is of the view that the state should take note of this and initiate necessary steps.
"Therefore, in view of the above and considering the seriousness of the issue, the commission being the monitoring body under section 44 of the POCSO Act, 2012 requests you to take necessary steps in the matter and file an urgent appeal against the aforesaid impugned judgment of the Hon'ble High Court.
"You are requested to provide details of the minor victim (maintaining strict confidentiality) so that the commission can provide help such as legal aid etc. in the best interest of the child," Kanoongo said.