Kissing, fondling not unnatural offences: Bombay HC grants bail to accused

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The Bombay High Court held that kissing on lips and fondling are not unnatural offences under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and granted bail to a man accused of sexually assaulting a minor boy.In a 4-page order, Justice Anuja Prabhudessai said, “The statement of the victim as well as the First Information Report (FIR) prima facie indicates that the accused had touched the private parts of the victim and had kissed his lips.”

Justice Prabhudessai added, “In my considered view, this would not prima facie constitute offences under section 377 (Unnatural sex offences)of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).”

WHAT IS SECTION 377 OF IPC?

Section 377 of the IPC is punishable with life imprisonment or with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and is also be liable to fine. Notably, since the sentence is higher, it is not considered easy for someone to get bail under this section.

WHAT IS THE CASE?

According to the FIR, the father of the minor boy had found some money missing from their cupboard on April 17, 2021. When asked, the boy told his father that he had given the money to the accused person for recharging an online game ‘Ola Party’. The victim also told his parents that the accused had sexually abused him.

WHAT DID COURT SAY?

The Bombay High Court held that kissing on lips and fondling are not unnatural offences under section 377 of the IPC. Granting bail to the man, the High Court noted that the accused had already been in custody for a year, and the trial in the case was not likely to begin soon.

“The accused is in custody for almost one year. Charge is not yet framed, and trial is not likely to commence in the immediate future. Considering the above facts and circumstances, the accused is entitled for bail,” the court order said.

The court added that the accused be “released on bail on furnishing P.R. bonds in the sum of Rs.30,000 with one or two solvent sureties in the like amount. The court ordered that the accused shall report to Oshiwara Police Station once in two months on every 1st Monday between 11 am to 2 pm until further orders.”

The court also said that the accused shall not interfere with the complainant and the other witnesses and shall not tamper with the evidence or attempt to influence or contact the complainant, witnesses or any persons concerned with the case.

The accused has also been asked to keep the trial court informed of his current address and mobile contact number and/or change of residence or mobile details, if any, from time to time. The court specified that the accused shall co-operate with the conduct of the trial and attend the trial court on all dates, unless exempted.

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