Sexual intent is key to POCSO Act: SC
Polity & Governance
23rd Nov, 2021
The Supreme Court quashed a Bombay High Court decision to acquit a man charged with assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) solely because he groped the child over her clothes without “skin-to-skin” contact.
- It specified that ‘touch’ in section 7 POCSO act covers both direct and indirect touch as otherwise, the act would legitimize an entire range of unacceptable behavior which undermines a child's dignity and autonomy.
- The act of touching the sexual part of the body or any other act involving physical contact, if done with ‘sexual intent’ would amount to ‘sexual assault’ within the meaning of section 7 of the POCSO Act.
Features of the POCSO Act
- Definition: “Children” according to the Act are individuals aged below 18 years. The Act is gender-neutral.
- Types: Different forms of sexual abuse including but not limited to sexual harassment, pornography, penetrative & non-penetrative assault are defined in the Act.
- Child-friendly process: The investigation process should be child-friendly and the case should be disposed of within one year from the date of reporting.
- Special Court: The Act provides for the establishment of Special Courts for the trial of such offenses and matters related to them.
- Implementing Agency: The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) monitor the Act’s implementation.
- Both are statutory bodies.