Touching hands of minor without intention to molest won’t amount to sexual assault: Tripura High Court

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Touching the hands of a minor without any intention to molest will not attract charges of sexual assault under Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the Tripura High Court ruled last week.

Justice Arindam Lodh, therefore, acquitted a man of charges of sexual assault of a minor girl.

“After careful perusal of the record it is found that the offence under Section 8 of the POCSO Act has not been established beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution witnesses including the victim has not specifically stated anything that there was any intention of the accused to molest her. However, though she stated that the accused had touched her hand, in this situation, in my opinion, the ingredients of section 8 have not been fulfilled and conviction and sentence under the said provision stand quashed and set aside,” the Court ruled.

The single-judge was hearing a plea filed by the accused challenging the orders of a special court which had convicted him for sexual assault and trespassing. The special court had awarded three years rigorous imprisonment under charges of sexual assault and a year’s jail term for trespass.

As per the prosecution, the minor’s mother had lodged a first information report (FIR) against the accused stating that on the evening of December 30, 2017, the accused entered her house and molested the daughter and even tried to rape her.

On hearing the hue and cry of the survivor, the mother rushed to her house after which the accused fled the spot.

Justice Lodh found that the material on record was not sufficient to convict the accused under charges of sexual assault.

“However, it has been proved that the accused had trespassed the house of the complainant. In my opinion, appropriate and proportionate sentence should be imposed upon the accused-appellant. In exercise of the power of this court, I modify the sentence of one year under charges of 448 of IPC to the extent of fine. He has to pay Rs 10,000 within six months,” the High Court ruled, adding that the same would have to be given as compensation to the survivor.

Advocate S S Dutta appeared for the accused while the State was represented by Public Prosecutor R Dutta.

Read Judgment here

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