A Bombay High Court additional judge, who had delivered two controversial verdicts in sexual assault cases, was on Friday given a fresh one-year term as an additional judge instead of two years as recommended by the Supreme Court collegium. According to news agency PTI, Justice Pushpa Ganediwala’s fresh tenure will be effective from February 13. Her earlier tenure as an additional judge was to end on Friday.
The Supreme Court collegium last month had withdrawn its approval to a proposal for Justice Ganediwala’s appointment as a permanent judge of the court after the two controversial verdicts. It had recommended she be given a fresh term as an additional judge for two years. But the government issued a notification on Friday saying she has been given a fresh term as an additional judge for a year.
Instead of asking the collegium to reconsider its recommendation of a fresh two-year term, the government decided to extend the period by a year, said sources. Additional judges are usually appointed for two years before being elevated as permanent judges.
The decision was taken after the judge faced flak for her interpretation of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Justice Ganediwala acquitted a man accused of groping a 12-year-old girl's breast because he did not make skin-to-skin contact; days earlier, she had ruled that holding the hands of a five-year-old girl and unzipping the trousers do not amount to "sexual assault" under the POCSO Act.
On January 27, the Supreme Court stayed the Bombay High Court order acquitting the man after Attorney General KK Venugopal said the order would set a dangerous precedent. The collegium headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde had earlier cleared the proposal to make Justice Ganediwala a permanent judge.