SC Refuses To Make Pushpa Ganediwala A Permanent Judge Over Controversial Orders

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The Supreme Court collegium has declined to make Justice Pushpa Ganediwala, who was in news earlier this year for two controversial judgements in POCSO cases, a permanent judge. Ganediwala received massive backlash earlier this year when she ruled that groping a minor without “skin to skin” contact can’t be ruled as a sexual assault.

This means that Justice Pushpa Ganediwala will be taking a step back in her legal career. She was an ad hoc Bombay High Court judge, who got a year extension by the centre. The next step for her would have been becoming the permanent judge but instead, she will go back to being a District Judge. Her term as ad hoc judgeship ends in the second week of February 2022.

This is not the first time that she had come so close to becoming a permanent judge. In January 2020 then Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had recommended to the Union Government her appointment as the permanent judge for the Bombay High Court. But after “insensitive” judgements in the POCSO case in the same month, the recommendation was withdrawn.

Suggested Reading: Can The Definition Of Assault Be Limited To Skin To Skin Contact?

Even the Centre declined to give her two years extension as an ad hoc judge and only granted one year due to the back-to-back insensitive judgements made by Justice Ganediwala.

Controversial Judgements by Justice Ganediwala

1. On January 19, 2020, she let go of a 39-year-old man, who was charged under section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence act for allegedly pressing a girl’s breast. While letting him go, she said that sexual assault without removing the minor’s top means that there was not skin-to-skin contact between the survivor and the accused and thus it was not a POCSO offence.

On November 18, the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice S Ravindra Bhat reversed this judgement and called it absurd. Justice Ganediwala had restricted the meaning of expressions like ‘touch and physical contact’ under section 7 of the POCSO Act. The SC called it narrow “interpretation” and pedantic in nature because then it would mean that any person wearing gloves to grope was not committing any crime.

2.  Nine days later, in the same month, January 28, 2020, she let go of a 50-year-old man for holding a minor’s hand and unzipping his pants in front of her. In this judgement, she said that the incident could not be counted under POCSO Act. The Supreme Court is considering another plea by the State government on this judgement. Read more here.

Image Credit: TOI

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