SC withdraws commendation to judge after POSCO verdicts

SC withdraws commendation to Bombay HC judge after controversial POSCO verdict

The judge had acquitted a man under the POCSO Act saying there was no skin-to-skin touch when he touched a girl child inappropriately

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The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India is learnt to have withdrawn its recommendation for making Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala as a permanent judge of the Bombay High Court following her two controversial judgements in child sexual offence cases.

The judge, currently acting as an additional judge of the HC, had acquitted a man under the POCSO Act saying there was no skin-to-skin touch when he touched a girl child inappropriately.

The judge had also let off a 50-year-old man stating 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 the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

In a recent meeting, the Collegium withdrew January 20 recommendation to the Law Ministry to make her a permanent judge, in view of objections by some judges of the Bombay High Court. Sources said her verdicts served as a ground recall of the recommendation.

On Wednesday, the Attorney General had described the judgment, where the judge acquitted a 39-year-old man accused of groping a 12-year-old, as disturbing and having the potential to set dangerous precedents.  

As the AG mentioned the judgement, the Supreme Court had then stayed the acquittal.

This interpretation of sexual assault under POSCO Act was termed shocking by many and caused a stir online.  

In other judgements earlier this month, the judge acquitted two men accused of raping minor girls, saying victims’ testimonies did not generate confidence to fix criminal liability on them.

Ganediwala was due for her appointment as a permanent judge after completing two years as an additional judge. Born on March 3, 1969 at Paratwada in Maharashtra's Amravati district, she was appointed as a district judge in 2007. In February 2019, she was elevated as an additional judge of the Bombay High Court.