Giving back-to-back controversial judgments in connection to child sexual offences under POCSO Act has cost a Bombay High Court judge her confirmation. Supreme Court collegium has decided to withdraw the recommendation to appoint Justice Pushpa Ganediwala as a permanent judge of Bombay High Court.
Justice Pushpa Virendra Ganediwala is currently serving as an additional judge of the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court. She is hitting the headlines from last two weeks for her controversial rulings.
The recent two judgments of Justice Ganediwala were criticized all over the country and her sensitization towards the minor sexual assault victim has also been questioned.
On January 19, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court gave a judgment which ruled that groping the breasts of a minor girl without removing her top didn’t come under the definition of sexual assault under the POCSO Act. The ruling also stated that skin-to-skin contact necessary to constitute ‘sexual assault’ under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Thereafter, Justice Ganediwala acquitted the 39-year old accused of the charges of sexually assaulting a 12-year old minor girl under Section 6 of the POCSO Act. The order was later stayed by Supreme Court.
Three-member Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde had sent the resolution to the law ministry on January 20, a day after Justice Ganediwala gave the ‘skin-to-skin’ ruling. Disregarding the objections from two senior judges, CJI Bobde had approved the proposal for the recommendation of Justice Pushpa Virendra Ganediwala.
Following the criticism of ruling and the judge for her insensitivity towards minor girls who are victims of sexual assault, Senior judges of Supreme Court A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chadrachud, who also hails from Bombay High Court, reiterated their strong reservations against the recommendation of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala name to be elevated as a permanent judge of Bombay High Court.
The two senior judges had even raised objections against the initial appointment of Justice Ganediwala as the additional judge in Bombay High Court in February 2019.
Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Chandrachud were not part of the three-member Supreme Court collegium who used to decide appointments, confirmations, and transfers of High Court judges. Both of them convinced one of the members of the collegium to withdraw the consent from the recommendation of Justice Ganediwala.
She made the task of withdrawing her name from the recommendation easy for CJI Bobde by giving another controversial POCSO order where she observed that opening pant’s zip and holding hands of a minor cannot be categorized as sexual assault under the POCSO act. The 50-year old accused was acquitted in the matter.
One more POCSO order stating that it is “impossible for a single man to gag, denude, and rape at the same time” added more to her criticism.
The SC collegium is of the view that Justice Ganediwala would now continue as an additional judge of the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court for another 2 years. The apex court judges also opined that she need to be sensitized about the aim and object behind the enactment of the POCSO Act.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala became a district judge in 2007 and was elevated as an additional judge in Bombay High Court on February 13, 2019.