This application was brought by the accused in the Hon’ble Meghalaya High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C, with a prayer to set aside and quash the criminal proceedings under Sections 9(m) and 7 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against the petitioner.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The accused, as per the prosecution case, after asking for a glass of water from the victim, and on the victim bringing the water to him, grabbed a 9 year old girl’s hand. In her statement under Section 164 CrPC, the victim stated that “he held my hand and stroked my hand and then said my hand is very beautiful”.
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES
The accused contended that merely because a 55 year old man appreciated the hands of a young girl saying that your hands are beautiful cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered an offense under any legislation.
The State opposed the petition contending that the fact that the accused did not take the glass of water which was dropped by the victim only goes to indicate the ulterior intention to make out a case under Sections 9(m) (sexual assault on a child below 12 years of age) and 7 (sexual assault) of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The Single Judge Bench of Justice W. Diengdoh believed that “the action of the petitioner in holding the hands of the alleged victim girl and saying that her hands are beautiful would not in any way amount to sexual intent and thereby, would not be considered an act of sexual assault.”
- The Court relied on the opinion of the Bombay High Court in Bandu Vitthalrao Borwar Case where the Hon’ble Court dealt with ‘sexual intent’ and explained it as “It is obvious that the intent, which is nothing but the state of mind, must be to establish some sort of physical contact or must be related to or associated with sex or indicative of involvement of sex in the relationship…”
- The Single Judge Bench also referred to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Attorney General of India v. Satish & Anr and observed that “the fact that the petitioner had held and commented on the hands of the alleged victim girl which contact is probably of a few seconds, the same cannot be read to imply that there is sexual intent on the part of the petitioner. At best, a non-sexual purpose of the contact can be presumed.”
- The Court while discussing the importance of judicial time and simultaneously quashing the proceedings of the accused under POCSO Act, stated that, “since prima facie, it appears that the petitioner has not committed the offense as alleged, it is unlikely that evidence if led would lead to a contrary result. A continuation of the proceeding would only be a waste of judicial time and ends of justice would not be met”.
Vaishali Jain, Advocate & Associate – POSH at Work & Hamda Arfeen