SC Collegium declines to confirm Bombay HC judge over \'skin-to-skin\' verdict

The Supreme Court Collegium is learnt to have decided not to recommend Ganediwala as a permanent judge

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Collegium is learnt to have decided not to recommend the name of Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala, the woman additional judge of the Bombay High Court, as a permanent judge after she gave some controversial judgments including the "skin-to-skin" contact verdict in a POCSO case.

The Collegium's decision means Justice Ganediwala, serving at Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, would be demoted back to district judiciary at the end of her additional judgeship in February 2022.

The three-member Collegium for deciding appointments in High Courts comprises Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, and Justices UU Lalit and AM Khanwilkar.

Last year, the Centre had disagreed with Collegium's decision to give her a two-year extension as an additional judge and granted only a one-year extension on the ground of her insensitivity towards children facing sexual abuse.

On November 18, the top court had set aside Justice Ganediwala's two judgments passed in January 2020, interpreting sexual assault provisions under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The judge had faced widespread criticism after she acquitted a man accused of groping a minor, on the ground that pressing the breasts of a minor girl without removing her top didn't entail skin-to-skin contact, hence not a POCSO Act offence. The judgement was passed on January 19, 2020.

In another verdict passed on January 28, 2020, she acquitted a 50-year-old man by ruling that holding the hand of a five-year-old kid and unzipping pants in front of her could not be categorised as a sexual offence under POCSO Act.

The top court had overturned both her judgments.

However, by its December 14 resolution, the collegium has approved the proposal for the appointment of three other additional judges of the Bombay High Court as permanent judges of that court.

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