Published: 30th January 2021
Contentious child sexual offence verdicts scuttles chances of Bombay HC judge confirmation
In a meeting held on January 20, the collegium headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had approved the proposal for making Justice Ganediwala a permanent judge of the High Court
Following two controversial judgments in child sexual offences, the Supreme Court Collegium is learnt to have withdrawn its recommendation to the Centre for the author of these judgments Justice P.V. Ganediwala, who is currently an additional judge of the Bombay High Court, as a permanent judge of the High Court.
On Wednesday, the Attorney General described the judgment, where the judge acquitted a 39-year-old man accused of groping a 12-year-old girl over the dress stating there was no skin-to-skin contact, as disturbing and having potential to set a dangerous precedent. After the AG mentioning the judgment, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order acquitting the accused. This interpretation of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, by the judge was termed shocking by many.
In a meeting held on January 20, the collegium headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had approved the proposal for making Justice Ganediwala a permanent judge of the High Court. Besides the Chief Justice, Justices N.V. Ramana and R.F. Nariman are part of the three-member collegium, which takes decisions in connection with the High Court judges.
On January 28, Justice Ganediwala gave another controversial judgment, where she acquitted 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 POCSO Act. According to a source familiar with the development, these verdicts served as a ground for the collegium to take decision to recall its recommendation to the Centre.
Apart from these judgments, Justice Ganediwala, in other two judgments earlier this month, acquitted two men accused of raping minor girls. The judge had observed victims' testimonies did not generate confidence to fix criminal liability on the accused.
Justice Pushpa Virendra Ganediwala was due for her appointment as a permanent judge after completing two years as an additional judge, but her recent controversial judgments scuttled her chances. She was born on March 3, 1969 at Paratwada in Maharashtra's Amravati district. In 2007, she was appointed as a district judge. In February 2019, she was elevated as an additional judge of the Bombay High Court.