ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Feminist Interrogation of the POCSO Judgments and Criminal Law in India

The recent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act judgments of the Bombay High Court have led to a gamut of criticisms from lawyers and activists alike. In light of this situation, this article argues that this judgment cannot be studied in isolation from the larger paradigm of feminist critique of law and engagement with law in India. By the virtue of contextualising the POCSO judgments in this manner, this article aims to propel contemporary feminist politics towards a more rigorous project of engendering criminal law in India.

Recently, there has been a lot of uproar in a case1 involving the sexual assault of a minor, where the trial court under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (also known as the POCSO Act) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) convicted the perpetrator. When the perpetrator appealed to the high court, the Bombay High Court ruled that the act did not amount to sexual harassment because it did not involve “skin-to-skin” contact with the victim, even if the perpetrator had intentions of engaging in sexual assault. The perpetrator was convicted under Section 354 of the IPC for outraging a woman’s modesty (Deshpande 2021). The sentence of imprisonment for the latter is generally one year, whereas the sentence under the POCSO is three to five years.

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Updated On : 18th Sep, 2021
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