In the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act [POCSO], 2012 case of Sri S.T. Vs The State of Tripura, the Tripura High Court on 7th March 2022 acquitting a man of charges of sexual assault ruled that touching the hands of a minor without any intention to molest will not attract charges of sexual assault under Section 8 of the POCSO Act.
Facts leading to the case
A complaint was filed in 2017 by the mother of the minor victim against a man alleging that he entered the complainant’s house and molested her daughter and also tried to rape her. Thereafter, the charge was framed under Sections 448 (Punishment for house-trespass) and 354 (Assault or criminal force to women with intent to outrage her modesty) and Section 8 of the POCSO Act, 2012. The Special Judge convicted the accused.
Dissatisfied with the said order of the Special POCSO Court the accused filed an appeal in the High Court.
Observation of the Court
- After careful examination of the record, the Court found that the offence under Section 8 of the POCSO Act has been not established beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The Court did not find any intention of the accused to molest the victim in her testimonial statement but only found touching of the hand of the victim. Therefore, the Court quashed all the charges and set them aside.
- Further, the Court also found that the accused had trespassed the house of the complainant.
- The Court modified the sentence and ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000 to the victim/complainant, in default of which, the accused shall suffer simple imprisonment for a period of six months.
Vaishali Jain, Advocate & Associate – POSH at Work & Surbhi Singh