No Sex Assault Since No “Skin-To-Skin Contact“
This is the legal precedent the Honorable Justice Pushpa Ganediwala set on the 19th of January, erasing the harsher consequences POSCO has created for those who prey on the minors of this country. The sitting bench that arrived at this decision argues that the definition of “groping” in itself does not specify we can call it sexual assault as there is no skin to skin contact, essentially establishing a ruling set in danger and victim bullying, as it undermines the very definition of “sexual assault” in itself. What was created in the Bombay HC was a form of logic that can be used by rapists and molesters across the country for evading the harsher sentences imposed for their fetishization of children – who in India wants pedophiles returning to the streets in a minimum of 1 year as set by the Bombay HC as opposed to 3 years? The ruling for the counsel takes a stance that favors the defendant (accused) in the case, a glaring example of institutional misogyny – arguing that the man didn’t commit any offense as there is no intention to commit penetration without the removal of clothes. The inherent line of logic in this stands on blatant erasure for every victim of abuse that has faced this exact situation and survived. The decision undertaken here undermined even the UPA era POCSO act, specifically constructed for cases such as these when it was passed in 2012; Should laws be written to account for the specifics of a clear sexual assault, or is it a binary issue? The Bombay HC seems to favor the former precedent in their ruling. The justice who found this discrepancy in the definition of sexual assault, instead of correcting the words in the statement/act, elected to do scramble wordplay to let a sexual offender free into society.
The High Court has just given the future offenders a bedrock foundation to commit a crime without a single worry of getting caught, this is not a simple loophole that we can argue to seal shut, it a judgment form a top court, it’s quite common for advocates to use an unrelated crime’s judgment from one high court to get the same outcome in another High Court as well, maybe even in Supreme Court of India.
To put into perspective, if an offender’s advocate from the High Court of Madras jurisdiction were to use this case as a printed argument then the lower court wouldn’t even consider the future victim’s side of the story, since one High Court already gave a judgment on a similar case. The magistrate level case would leave the rape victims, as attention-seeking liars people and order in favor of male perpetrators. Bombay High Court just opened the Pandora’s Box for sexual abuse.
Image Credits: Times of India
Author: Vijay Senathpathi