The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside a controversial judgment of the Bombay High Court which held that “skin-to-skin” contact was necessary for the offence of sexual assault under the POCSO Act.
A bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela Trivedi said restricting the meaning of “touch” to “skin-to-skin” contact would lead to “narrow and absurd interpretation” and destroy the intent of the Act, which was enacted to protect children from sexual offences, LiveLaw reported.
“Touching through clothes/sheet with sexual intent is covered in the definition of POCSO. Courts should not be overzealous in searching for ambiguity in words that are plain,” the Supreme Court bench said.
“Narrow pedantic interpretation that would defeat the purpose of the provisions cannot be allowed,” the court further said.
The Supreme Court made the observations while hearing appeals by Attorney General KK Venugopal, NCW and the State of Maharashtra against the January 12 ruling of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay HC.
On January 27, the Supreme Court had stayed the order that had acquitted a man under the POCSO Act, saying “groping a minor’s breast without ‘skin to skin contact’ cannot be termed as sexual assault”.