Observing that a father is a "fortress and trustee" of his daughter, a Special Court in Mumbai has convicted a 40-year-old man for sexually assaulting his five-year-old daughter and sentenced him to five years in jail while rejecting the defence's argument that there was no "skin-to-skin" touch.

The special court set up under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) convicted the man on April 12 for sexually assaulting his minor daughter under the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act.

A copy of the order was made available on Sunday. Special Judge H C Shende termed astonishing the argument put forth by the accused man's advocate that the victim never said that her father touched her private part with his finger.

I am astonished by such arguments because even the provision/definition of sexual assault given under Section 7 of the POCSO Act does not specify how the assailant should touch the private part of the victim and what amounts to an offence if the victim is assaulted by the assailant, the Court observed.

The court further said that the accused in the present case was the father of the victim and hence the plea of mercy made by him to show leniency was misplaced and would be a travesty of justice.

A father is a fortress and trustee of his daughter. This crime, therefore, becomes more grievous. In the present case, I do not find extenuating or mitigating circumstances on record to justify the imposition of a lesser punishment than prescribed by law, the special judge held.

The complaint was filed by the wife of the accused man. The complaint stated that, in 2019, the victim's teacher had alerted her about the victim behaving weirdly in school. Wen the complainant questioned her daughter, she revealed that the father had touched her private part.

The mother then lodged a complaint against her husband. The accused claimed that he was falsely implicated by his wife as she wanted to leave him. In its order, the Court refused to accept this argument and noted that the victim stuck to her version throughout the trial that the accused had touched her private part.

The victim is not only saying that the accused touched her but also added that thereafter the accused threatened her that if she would disclose this to anyone, he would punish her. This reflects the guilty mind of the accused behind the act, the Court held.

With PTI inputs