A simple blow on a child’s back does not amount to sexual harassment under the POCSO law as there must be a sexual intent behind the act, a Delhi court has said. It said that an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is made out when harassment is done with a sexual intent.
“Simply giving a blow on the back of the victim does not amount to sexual harassment as defined under the POCSO Act, according to which sexual harassment must be done with sexual intent. Then only the offence becomes punishable under the POCSO Act.
“Explanation of Section 11 of the Act says that any question which involving sexual intent shall be a question of fact,” Additional Sessions Judge A K Sarpal said.
The court’s observation came in a case in which a minor girl, student of class 10, had accused a man of sexually harassing her by spitting on her and misbehaving with her after giving a blow on her back with his hand.
The girl had alleged that the incident took place when she and her sister were going to school on a scooter in July 2015. She claimed that the accused came forward and threw garbage on the road and obstructed their way.
He then hit her with the garbage bucket and when she objected, he abused her, the girl alleged in her complaint.
The court, however, said the record pointed out that it was an “incident of simple quarrel which cannot be stretched to sexual harassment by any imagination”.
The court also noted that as per the charge sheet, the victim and her family members have instituted 14 similar kind of cases against the accused and other neighbours. Even her parents were facing four cases against them.
“In my opinion, simple vague and unspecific allegations made against the accused that he had misbehaved with the victim while giving a blow on her back itself, is not sufficient to invoke the provisions of POCSO Act against him.
“It was required by the prosecution to show that at the time of alleged quarrel, the accused has committed the offence of sexual harassment and that is also with a specific sexual intent,” the judge said.
The court said that even if the man gave a blow on the minor’s back during the quarrel, that act will not amount to showing any feeling or indicate sexual intent.
“Accordingly, after considering the charge sheet, I am of the opinion that no offence under the POCSO Act regarding commission of sexual harassment is made out,” the judge said.
The designated POCSO Act court transferred the matter to the court of chief metropolitan magistrate to decide whether any other offence was made out against the man.