NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed a Bombay High Court order acquitting a man accused of child abuse on the ground that groping a child's breasts without 'skin-to-skin contact' didn't amount to 'sexual assault' under the POCSO Act.
A bench headed by CJI SA Bobde stayed the acquittal of the accused after Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that the judgment would set a dangerous precedent.
Venugopal urged the top court to take cognisance of the High Court's verdict that said groping a child's breasts without 'skin-to-skin contact' would not amount to 'sexual assault' under the POCSO Act.
"It is a very disturbing conclusion. Your Lordships should take note of this. I will have a petition filed tomorrow or Your Lordships may take suo motu notice," Venugopal said.
The top court allowed the Attorney General to file a Special Leave Petition against the January 19 verdict of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court that acquitted an accused in the case and also issued a notice to the Maharashtra government and the accused.
The verdict was passed on January 19 by Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court where it was said that there must be skin-to-skin contact with sexual intent for an act to be considered sexual assault.
The order said the act of groping falls under the definition of offence but not a sexual assault as there was no specific data as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside the top and pressed her breast etc.
“The words ‘any other act’ encompasses within itself, the nature of the acts which are similar to the acts which have been specifically mentioned in the definition on the premise of the principle of ‘ejusdem generis.’ The act should be of the same nature or closure to that,” the court opined while acquitting the accused under POCSO.