A special Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Mumbai observed that “the term private part is to be interpreted in the context of what is meant by it in our society” and sentenced a man to 5 years in jail for sexually harassing a 10-year old girl by touching her posteriors.
The incident took place in 2017. As per the prosecution, the victim who was 10 years old at the time of the incident, had stepped out of her house to get bread from a nearby shop. When she was on her way to home, she saw four boys sitting outside a stationery shop laughing at her.
She again stepped out of the house to go to the temple along with her friend. While she was going to the temple, the four boys were still there. One of the four boys touched her posteriors and started laughing at her.
The minor girl immediately rushed to her home and narrated the whole incident to her mother. She pointed to Sahar Ali Shaikh as the main accused who touched her bum. Her mother called her husband and informed him about the whole incident. The victim’s father immediately rushed to the home and when he reached the spot Shaikh ran away.
Then, he lodged a complaint against the boys and Shaikh was arrested the next day. He was granted bail within a few days of his arrest.
Public prosecutor Sulbha Joshi contended, “the accused had touched her bum, the private part, obviously with the intention to sexually assault her. There is no reason to disbelieve the victim and her father, who immediately approached the police station and lodged the report promptly. The victim who was 10 years old at the material time felt insulted and scared by the incident that she disclosed it to her mother immediately.”
Advocate appearing for Shaikh argued that the victim’s father had told the court that he received a call from his wife who said that somebody had teased his daughter. There is much difference between teasing and touching. Also, bum is not a private part as alleged by the victim.
“Wife might have not disclosed the full incident on phone to her husband. Calling over on a phone by the wife to husband and as the husband says that the wife was scared, so he immediately rushed to home. The conduct of the father in rushing home immediately after receiving the call shows that something more had happened with his daughter than teasing. It was a telephonic conversation, so it is but natural that the wife instead of giving details, on phone, simply said that, their daughter had been teased. Avoiding to give details on phone does not mean that daughter was teased only without touching,” noted the special POCSO court.
Judge MA Baraliya further said, “The term private part is to be interpreted in the context of what is meant by it in our society. Google might not interpret bum as private part as submitted by the advocate for the accused, but it is not acceptable interpretation as far as we Indians are concerned.”
“The victim told her parents and the police that the accused had touched her private part. At the relevant time, she was hardly 10 years old. So she expressed her ordeal in her language. So there cannot be any confusion that she was not only teased but had been touched inappropriately by the accused,” he added.
The court further noted, “Accused and other three were laughing at her when she had been to buy bread. The second time when she was going still they were laughing at her. Past conduct of the accused laughing at her and then touching her manifests that it was all with sexual intention, to grab the chance. The sexual intention is the state of mind, may not necessarily be proved by direct evidence, such intention is to be inferred from the attending circumstances of the case.”
The special POCSO court sentenced the 22-year old Sahar Ali-Shaikh to 5 years of imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine.