In a judgment last week, Bombay High Court Judge Pushpa Ganeediwala found that a 39-year-old man was not guilty of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl because she had not taken off her clothes, which meant there was no skin-skin touch. .
According to court documents, the man brought the child to his home in December 2016 on the pretext of delivering his guava. While there, he touched her chest and tried to take off her underwear as decided.
He was convicted of sexual abuse and sentenced to three years in prison in the lower court, but then appealed to the High Court.
In his ruling on January 19, Justice Ganeediwala observed that his act would not fall within the definition of “sexual harassment”, which would increase the minimum jail term of three years which could be extended to five years.
Justice Ganeediwala acquitted the accused of sexual harassment but convicted him on lesser charges of molestation and sentenced to one year in jail.
“It is a fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that the punishment for a crime will be proportionate to the severity of the crime,” she said.
India’s sexual assault problem
Indians were taken to social media following the Bombay High Court’s decision to question the logic of the court’s decision, which sets a new precedent. Other high courts and lower courts in the country will now be required to follow the Bombay High Court’s decision.
Karuna Nuni, a lawyer in the Supreme Court of India, the country’s top court, called judges who passed decisions that were “completely contrary to established law” and had the basic rights to withdraw.
Ranjana Kumari, director of the Non-Profit Center for Social Research advocating for women’s rights in India, said the decision was “shameful, humiliating, shocking and devoid of judicial discretion.”
Those included fast-track courts to rapidly pursue rape cases through the justice system, a revised definition of rape to include anal and oral penetration, and intent to do away with a two-finger test Publication of new government guidelines that allegedly assess a woman recently had sexual intercourse.
CNN’s Swati Gupta and Manveena Suri contributed reporting.