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Any act of sexual assault or harassment to children should be viewed very seriously: Supreme Court

Supreme Court noted that the man, who was a neighbour of the victim, was aged approximately 65 years of age at the time of the commission of the offence.

Published: 08th February 2022 09:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th February 2022 09:05 PM   |  A+A-

Sexual Harassment

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Any act of sexual assault or harassment to the children should be viewed very seriously as their exploitation is a crime against humanity and society and a message must be conveyed by awarding suitable punishment to the accused, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna made the observations while upholding an order of Uttarakhand High Court convicting a man for the offences punishable under Sections 376(2)(i) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 5 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and imposing the punishment under Section 6 of the POCSO Act for sexual assault of the four-year-old girl.

"Any act of sexual assault or sexual harassment to the children should be viewed very seriously and all such offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment on the children have to be dealt with in a stringent manner and no leniency should be shown to a person who has committed the offence under the POCSO Act," the bench said.

The top court noted that the man, who was a neighbour of the victim, was aged approximately 65 years of age at the time of the commission of the offence.

As a neighbour, it was the duty of the accused to protect the girl when alone rather than exploiting her innocence and vulnerability, it said.

The bench said that the accused instead of showing fatherly love, affection, and protection to the child against the evils of the society, rather made her the victim of lust.

It is a case where trust has been betrayed and social values are impaired, therefore, the accused as such does not deserve any sympathy and/or any leniency, the apex court said.

"By awarding a suitable punishment commensurate with the act of sexual assault, sexual harassment, a message must be conveyed to the society at large that, if anybody commits any offence under the POCSO Act of sexual assault, sexual harassment or use of children for pornographic purposes they shall be punished suitably and no leniency shall be shown to them.

"Cases of sexual assault or sexual harassment on the children are instances of perverse lust for sex where even innocent children are not spared in pursuit of such debased sexual pleasure," the bench said.

"Children are precious human resources of our country; they are the country's future. The hope of tomorrow rests on them. But unfortunately, in our country, a girl child is in a very vulnerable position. There are different modes of her exploitation, including sexual assault and/or sexual abuse.

"In our view, exploitation of children in such a manner is a crime against humanity and society. Therefore, the children and more particularly the girl child deserve full protection and need greater care and protection whether in the urban or rural areas," the apex court said.

The top court noted that the accused is aged 70-75 years of age and it is also reported that he is suffering from Tuberculosis.

"Therefore, considering such mitigating circumstances we are of the opinion that if the life sentence is converted to fifteen years rigorous imprisonment and the fine imposed by the Trial Court confirmed by the High Court to be maintained, it can be said to be an adequate punishment commensurate with the offence committed by the accused," the bench said.



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