SC Halts Permanent Appointment of Judge Who Passed POCSO Orders

Justice Pushpa Ganediwala’s orders, including that groping a minor over her shirt wasn’t assault, have drawn flak.
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Bombay High Court had said that holding a minor’s hand, unzipping pants is not sexual assault under the POCSO act. | (Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)
Bombay High Court had said that holding a minor’s hand, unzipping pants is not sexual assault under the POCSO act.

The Supreme Court collegium has withdrawn its recommendation to appoint Justice Pushpa Ganediwala as a permanent judge of the Bombay High Court, following controversy over her recent orders on POCSO Act offences, according to several media reports.

Justice Ganediwala, an additional judge of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, has come in for serious flak over her acquittals of men under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, including one where she held that groping a minor without ‘skin-to-skin’ contact shouldn’t be considered sexual assault.

Other judgments that have come to light include acquitting (of POCSO Act offences) a man who had been found holding the hand of a minor girl with his pants unzipped, and clearing a man of rape charges because there hadn’t been a scuffle to indicate forced sex.
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The ‘three-judge collegium’ of Supreme Court judges that appoints high court judges had recommended her permanent appointment to the high court on 20 January, but has now reportedly withdrawn this recommendation.

The Times of India reports that Justices DY Chandrachud and AM Khanwilkar – who are not part of the three-judge collegium but began their judicial careers in the Bombay High Court – “reiterated their strong reservations against making Justice Ganediwala a permanent judge of the HC in closed door conversations.”

Both these judges had objected to her appointment as an additional judge in the first place (in February 2019), and thanks to the recent controversy, were able to convince one of the members of the three-judge collegium to withdraw their consent to her permanent appointment, The Times of India notes.

While the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the apex court form the collegium for appointments to the Supreme Court, high court appointments are decided by a three-member panel.

NDTV sources informed the news channel that the decision has been taken to ensure she has “exposure and training” for such cases cases, as she may not have had sufficient experience of POCSO cases as a lawyer.

(With inputs from Times of India, NDTV.)

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