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MUMBAI: Bombay high court granted bail to a youth booked for pulling a minor girl towards him, observing that his act does not amount to sexual harassment under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

Justice Bharati Dangre on Friday allowed his bail application and directed his release on a Rs25,000 bail. The youth was booked by Hadapsar police station on September 22, 2021, for offences under Indian Penal Code, Information Technology Act and POCSO Act.

The girl’s statement said her male friend had introduced her to his two friends. On September 15, 2021, she reluctantly went to meet him, but those friends were also present. They went together to visit Ganpati pandals. Taking advantage of her standing alone, the accused (applicant) pulled her towards him but she immediately pushed him away. After she returned home around 4am, she received an objectionable video from him. When her mother saw the video, she lodged a complaint. The three youths were arrested on September 22.

Police sent their mobile phones for forensic analysis as well as the minor’s tab. The panchnama showed there were two video recordings and five chat messages between the applicant/accused and the minor. Justice Dangre said from panchnama, prima facie there is no connection established between the applicant and the girl regarding the objectionable video.

She noted that as far as offences under section 8 (punishment for sexual assault) and 12 (sexual harassment) of POCSO was concerned, the prosecution must establish that the act would fall within the purview of “sexual assault” as defined under Section 7 and also “very necessary to establish that the touch was with sexual intent”.

“The applicant faces accusation at the instance of the victim that he pulled her towards him, but she immediately pushed him away. Prima facie it cannot be said that the offence would fall within the purview of sexual harassment,” said Justice Dangre.

The judge also noted that the maximum penalty for offence under both POCSO sections was five years’ imprisonment and a fine. “In the wake of accusations, specifically when the applicant is a young boy aged 22 and with future staring at him , I do not deem it appropriate to keep him incarcerated further, though he may face trial and take consequences of the charges levelled against him,” she concluded.

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