Pulling hand, dragging scarf not sexual harassment under POCSO Act, says Calcutta HC
The case was about the alleged molestation of a minor in 2017, where the accused accosted her and proposed marriage.
The Calcutta High Court has ruled that dragging a girl’s scarf, pulling her hand and proposing marriage did not come within the definition of sexual assault or harassment under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, Bar and Bench reported on Thursday.
The case is related to the alleged molestation of a minor. The prosecution alleged that when the girl was returning from school in August 2017, the accused person dragged her scarf and asked her to marry him.
The police also alleged that the man threatened to throw acid on her if she refused, Live Law reported.
At the hearing, the High Court held that assuming the accused person had committed the acts, the offences would still fall under Section 354A (sexual harassment) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Justice Bibek Chaudhuri convicted the accused person under Section 354A(1)(ii) of the IPC (demand for sexual favours) and for criminal intimidation. He, however, acquitted him under sections related to molestation, assault or use of criminal force against a woman, and sections of the POCSO Act.
The court held that the administration of justice was not “one way traffic” and that justice must be imparted on the basis of facts and evidence. The judge also pointed to the discrepancies in the statements of the girl and her uncle about the date and time of the alleged incident.
The girl had stated that the incident occurred on August 27, 2017 at 10.30 am, while the complaint said that it took place on August 24, 2017 at 4.10 pm.
“It is needless to say that the victim girl who was a student of Class 12, on the date of examination, might forget the date of occurrence but it is hard to believe that she also would forget the time when the incident took place,” Justice Chaudhuri said, according to the Hindustan Times.
The court held that in view of such discrepancies, the court could view the prosecution’s claims with a pinch of salt.