In Nawabuddin versus the State of Uttarakhand, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that inserting a finger into the vagina of a juvenile girl would be considered “penetrative sexual assault” within the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO Act). If the girl is under the age of 12, the crime is classified as ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault,’ according to Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna.

As a result, the Court affirmed the conviction of a 75-year-old man who was accused of sticking his finger into a 4-year-old’s vagina. In this case, it was discovered and demonstrated that the offender inserted his finger into the vagina, leaving the victim girl to endure difficulty and irritability in urinating as well as pain throughout her body, and the doctor discovered redness and swelling around the vagina. The case falls under Section 3(b) of the POCSO Act, and it can be said to be penetrative sexual assault, and considering Section 5(m) of the POCSO Act, as such penetrative sexual assault was committed on a girl child aged four years (below twelve years), the same can be said to be ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault,’ punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act,’ the Court held.

The Court was entertaining an appeal of a man who was accused of enticing a four-year-old girl and forcing his finger into her vagina until he was found red-handed and arrested by police. The perpetrator was 65 years old at the time the crime was committed. The offender was found guilty of violating Sections 376(2)(i) of the IPC and Sections 5 and 6 of the POCSO Act by a special court and sentenced to life in prison. The accused’s appeal was dismissed by the High Court, which upheld the conviction and punishment. This resulted in the current Supreme Court appeal.

Inserting a finger into a vaginal opening could, at best, be considered an attempt to perform heinous sexual assault under Sections 7 and 8 of the POCSO Act, pertaining to the appellant. It was contended that the appellant could not have been convicted of the charges charged under Section 5/ 6 of the POCSO Act if there had been no penetration or aggravated penetrative sexual assault. He also pleaded for a sentence reduction because he had the disease and was of old age.

The Court decided that the accused had enticed the girl away from her residence, taken her into the bushes, disrobed her and removed his clothes as well, and inserted his finger into the girl’s vagina, based on the testimony of independent witness Dr Vandana Sundriyal.

The Court noted that he was ready to force himself upon her and commit rape when he was caught red-handed. As a result, the Court determined that an offence of penetrative sexual assault had been established and sustained the conviction for Sections 5/6 offences.

In response to the petition for a reduction in the life sentence, the Supreme Court stated that no leniency can be offered to an accused who has committed offences under the POCSO Act, especially where the same has been shown by competent evidence in a court of law.

The Court referred to the POCSO Act’s purpose and the vulnerable status of children in society in this regard.

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