The Allahabad High Court has reduced the sentence of a convict, who forced a minor to have “oral sex” with him, saying that the crime was “less serious”, News18 reported on Tuesday.

Justice Anil Kumar Ojha was hearing convict Sonu Kushwaha’s plea challenging a special sessions court order that had sentenced him to prison for 10 years. The High Court has reduced his jail term to seven years.

In 2018, Jhansi district resident Dev Singh had alleged that Kushwaha took his 10-year-old son to a temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Hardaul town and forced the minor to have “oral sex” and gave him Rs 20, according to India Legal.

Kushwaha was convicted under the Indian Penal Code sections 377 (unnatural offences) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), along with section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, commonly known as POCSO Act.

Section 6 of the Act provides punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

However, the Allahabad High Court held that the convict could not be charged under section 6 as “putting a penis into the [minor’s] mouth does not fall in the category of aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault”.

“It comes into the category of penetrative sexual assault which is punishable under section 4 of POCSO Act,” the court said.

Section 4 of the Act has provisions for punishment for penetrative sexual assault.

“Penetrative sexual assault being [a] lesser offence from aggravated penetrative sexual assault is legally permissible to convict the appellant therein,” the court said.

The Allahabad High Court’s observation regarding the “less serious” sexual crime comes days after the Supreme Court set aside a Bombay High Court ruling on “skin-to-skin contact” in cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

On January 19, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court had said that an accused person and a minor skins must have had “skin-to-skin contact” to establish a case under the Act. It had held that groping a minor’s breast without removing her clothes did not fall into the category of sexual assault defined under Section 7 of the POCSO Act.

The Supreme Court set aside this ruling and said that “sexual intent” was the most important ingredient for determining sexual assault under the Act and “skin-to-skin contact” in such incidents was not relevant.