What is an Inappropriate Sexual Touch?

Last updated on May 11, 2022

[Trigger Warning: This explainer contains information on physical violence, sexual violence, abuse and slurs which some readers may find disturbing.]

If someone inappropriately touches a person with a sexual intention, it is a crime under the law. The touch may or may not be forceful, but the perpetrator will still be punished for their actions. Under the law, only a man can be punished for the crime.(( Section 354 and 354A(1)(i), Indian Penal Code, 1860.))

The sexual touch is inappropriate if it is with a sexual intention and without a person’s consent. Some examples are:

  • Making someone feel uncomfortable, scared or annoyed. For example, touching a person longer than needed.
  • Touching a person with the intention to sexually harass them.(( Ramkripal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2007) 11 SCC 265.)) For example, touching a person without their permission on any visible skin on a person’s body, be it under or over their clothes.
  • Causing any injury or harm to the person.(( Section 350, Indian Penal Code. [Commonly referred to as Criminal Force].)) For example, spanking a person(( Mrs. Rupan Deol Bajaj & Anr v. Kanwar Pal Singh Gill & Anr 1995 SCC (6) 194.)) or forcefully touching their body.(( State of Rajasthan v. Hetram, 1982 Cr LR ( Raj) 522, T Manikandan v. State of Delhi and Others CRL.REV.P. 404/2016 Order dated: 10.01.2017,  Digamber Harinkhede and Chhotu Alias Hanslal Harinkhede v. State of Madhya Pradesh.))

The punishment for inappropriately touching someone is a jail time of minimum one year and maximum five years with a fine.(( Section 354, Indian Penal Code, 1860.))

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