POCSO cases: NCW welcomes SC order on skin-to-skin contact

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India.

New Delhi: The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court order setting aside the Bombay High Court skin-to-skin contact verdict in a POCSO case, and expressed hope that it will help uphold legal safeguards for women and children.

Quashing the judgement, the Supreme Court said the most important ingredient constituting sexual assault is sexual intent and not skin-to-skin contact with the child.

The high court had held that no offence of sexual assault under the POCSO Act is made out if there is no direct skin-to-skin contact between an accused and victim

On February 4, the NCW had filed an SLP before the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court judgment stating that it would set a dangerous precedent for safety of women.

The Commission, while filing the SLP, had raised concern that the impugned order had far reaching ramifications for women and children, exposing them to a desensitized society.

Such a narrow interpretation adopted by the high court in the impugned order would have had a cascading effect on the safety of women and children, it had said.

"The Commission welcomes the Hon'ble Supreme Court's verdict today and believes that the apex court's decision in the matter will uphold the legal and constitutional safeguard for women and children," the NCW said in statement.

The top court, in its judgement, said that sexual intent is important in such cases and that it can't be taken away from the purview of the Act. The purpose of the law cannot be to allow the offender to escape the meshes of the law, the apex court said.

The top court noted that giving a narrow meaning of physical contact to confine it to skin-to-skin contact would defeat the purpose of POCSO Act and it cannot be accepted.

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