Thursday, December 2, 2021

Dragging scarf, pulling hand not sexual assault, sexual harassment under POCSO Act: Calcutta High Court

The Calcutta High Court recently held that an act of dragging a minor girl’s scarf, pulling her hand and proposing marriage does not come within the purview of sexual assault or sexual harassment under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act [Nurai Sk. @ Nurul Sk. v. State of West Bengal].

Single-judge Justice Bibek Chaudhuri held that even assuming that the accused committed the alleged acts of dragging the scarf and pulling the hand of the victim and proposed marriage, such acts do not come within the definition of either sexual assault under Section 7 of POCSO or sexual harassment under Section 11 of POCSO.

At best, the accused can be held liable only for offences under Section 354A (sexual harassment) read with Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Court ruled.

On appeal, the High Court before going into the merits of the matter, discussed the judgment of the Supreme Court in State of Rajasthan vs. Om Prakash in which it was stated that it is necessary for courts to have a sensitive approach when dealing with cases of child rape since the effect of such a crime on the mind of the child is likely to be lifelong.

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