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Home India Controversial Pocso rulings cost HC judge her confirmation | India News

Controversial Pocso rulings cost HC judge her confirmation | India News


NEW DELHI: Back-to-back controversial decisions relating to child sexual offences forced the Supreme Court collegium to take the unprecedented step of withdrawing its recommendation to the Centre to make the author of the judgments, Justice Pushpa Virendra Ganediwala, an additional judge in Bombay high court, a permanent judge of the HC.
Ganediwala stunned many with her January 19 judgment acquitting a 39-year-old man from the charge under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act on the ground that pressing the breasts of a 12-year-old girl without removing her top did not entail skin-to-skin contact and, hence, was not an offence under the Act.
A day later, the collegium headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, disregarding serious objections from two senior SC judges, “approved the proposal for appointment of Justice Ganediwala as a permanent judge of Bombay HC”. The SC sent this approval to the law ministry.
As public criticism mounted against the specious “skin-to-skin contact” logic that reflected the judge’s insensitivity towards minor girls subjected to sexual harassment or assault, senior judges of the SC, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, both hailing from Bombay HC, reiterated their strong reservations against making Justice Ganediwala a permanent judge of the HC in closed door conversations. Both had reservations even against her initial appointment as an additional judge in Bombay HC in February 2019.
Justices Khanwilkar and Chandrachud, who are not members of the three-member collegium that decides appointments, confirmations and transfers of HC judges, convinced one of the members of collegium to withdraw his consent to the resolution approving appointment of Justice Ganediwala as a permanent judge.
When the CJI was deliberating on the embarrassing move of recalling the proposal that had already been sent to the Union government, Justice Ganediwala made his task easier by giving a second controversial judgment on January 28, by which she acquitted a 50-year-old man by ruling that holding the hand of a five-year-old girl and unzipping his pants in front of her could not be categorised as a sexual offence under Pocso Act.
It proved to be the last straw and the collegium withdrew its January 20 resolution approving her appointment as a permanent judge. The collegium is now of the view that she would continue as an additional judge of Nagpur bench of Bombay HC for another year or two. The SC judges are of the opinion that she needs to be sensitised about the aim and object behind enactment of Pocso Act.
Justice Ganediwala was appointed as a district judge in 2007 and was named an additional judge of Bombay HC on February 13, 2019. She was due for appointment as a permanent judge after completing two years as an additional judge. It was approved by the collegium, but her two controversial judgments threw cold water on the decision.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala was appointed as a district judge in 2007 and was named an additional judge of Bombay high court on February 13, 2019. She was due for appointment as a permanent judge after completing two years as an additional judge.



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