Teacher forcing girl to accept flowers sexual harassment: Supreme Court

Supreme Court rules male teacher’s act of pressuring minor girl student to accept flowers as sexual harassment under POCSO Act.

The bench found that the evidence given by the allegedly harassed minor student and witnesses was full of discrepancies. (Burhaan Kinu/HT FILE PHOTO)

The Supreme Court ruled that the act of a male school teacher presenting flowers to a minor girl student and pressuring her to accept them in front of others constituted sexual harassment under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, reported The Times of India. However, the court stressed the need for strict scrutiny of evidence, recognising the potential impact on the reputation of the accused teacher.

The top court raised concerns about the possibility of the girl being used as a pawn to settle personal grievances against the teacher, stemming from an unrelated incident involving her relatives.

In a decision authored by Justice Dipankar Datta, alongside Justices K V Vishwanathan and Sandeep Mehta, the Court overturned the convictions by a Tamil Nadu trial court and the Madras high court, which had sentenced the teacher to three years in prison.

“We quite agree with the submissions of senior counsel for the State that an act of sexual harassment of a girl student (who is also a minor) by any teacher would figure quite high in the list of offences of grave nature since it has farreaching consequences, which impact more than just the parties to the proceeding,” the bench said.

The bench acquitted the accused teacher, stressing the need for balanced adjudication in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct, especially when a teacher’s reputation is at stake.

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