The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Thursday filed a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court against the controversial judgment of the Bombay High Court which said groping without "skin to skin" contact is not sexual assault as defined under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, in a judgment passed on January 19, held that there must be "skin to skin contact with sexual intent" for an act to be considered sexual assault.
She said in her verdict that mere groping will not fall under the definition of sexual assault. The Supreme Court had later stayed the controversial verdict and also withdrawn the recommendation on Justice Ganediwala's appointment. In a statement, the NCW said the Commission is aggrieved by the order and the interpretation adopted by the High Court that the term 'physical contact' in Section 7, POCSO Act means only 'skin to skin touch'.
"If such an interpretation of physical contact is allowed, it will adversely impact the basic rights of women, who are victims of sexual offences in the society and will undermine the beneficial statutory safeguards prescribed under various legislations aimed at protecting the interest of women," the NCW said.
The Commission said it also believes that the impugned order has far reaching ramifications for women, exposing them to a desensitized society. "Such a narrow interpretation adopted in the impugned order sets a dangerous precedent, which would have a cascading effect on the safety of women and children," the NCW said.