Mumbai | Jagran News Desk: In another shocking observation, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled that holding the hands of a minor and opening the zips of pants cannot be termed as 'sexual assault' under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.

The observation was made by a single-judge bench of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala who said that such acts come under the ambit of "sexual harassment under Section 354-A (1) (i) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)".

Justice Ganediwala made the statement while hearing a case against the conviction and sentence awarded to a 50-year-old man for molesting a five-year-old girl.

Interestingly, Justice Ganediwala had also issued a similar observation last week, ruling that groping a minor's breast without "skin to skin contact" cannot be termed as sexual assault as defined under POCSO.

However, the Bombay High Court's verdict on groping of minor was put on hold by the Supreme Court after Attorney General K K Venugopal filed a plea calling the verdict "disturbing and it would set a dangerous precedent".

The apex court had also issued notice to Maharashtra government and permitted the AG to file an appeal against the January 19 verdict of Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court.

"The AG has brought to notice a judgment of Bombay High Court Nagpur bench dated 19.1. 2021 in which the High Court has acquitted the accused under 8 section of POCSO on the ground that the accused had no sexual intent in committing offence...and there was no direct physical contact (skin to skin contact)", the Supreme Court said.

"In these circumstances, we permit the AG to file an appropriate petition against the said order. In the meanwhile, we stay the acquittal of the accused so far as an offence under section 8 of the POCSO. Issue notice to the accused returnable two weeks", the top court added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma