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Sexual Offence Cannot Be Charged Under POCSO Act Unless Intent Is Proved: Bombay HC

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court, last week stated that sexual assault charges cannot be put under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act unless it is proved that the act was committed with sexual intent.

The court made the statement while granting an anticipatory bail to a man accused of tearing off a minor’s clothes and touching her inappropriately while physically assaulting her.

Justice Bharati Dangre granted the bail saying the FIR lodged against the accused on October 20, did not indicate that he committed the acts with sexual intent.

The complainant alleged that her family had a dispute with the accused over a shop and they had exchanged legal notices over it.

The Pune-based accused allegedly barged into their house along with his wife and two others and started assaulting her parents.

The complainant said the accused also assaulted her and her younger 17-year-old sister and ripped off their clothes. She alleged the attacker also touched both of them inappropriately.

“Prima facie, the offence under Section 7 and the punishment under Section 8 of the POCSO Act would not be attracted unless and until the sexual intent is specifically proven,” said Dangre, as quoted by Hindustan Times.

“This is a matter of trial since the FIR does not make out any sexual intent.”

The High Court justice added that prima facie in absence of the sexual intent and in the backdrop of the discord between the two parties, the applicant is entitled to protection in anticipation of his arrest.

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