28 Jan 2021: Who is Pushpa Ganediwala, judge behind controversial Bombay HC ruling
The Bombay High Court's recent ruling that groping a minor without skin-to-skin contact does not constitute sexual assault has faced severe flak.
In another controversial verdict, the HC had ruled earlier this month that holding a minor's hands or opening the zip of one's pants does not constitute sexual assault.
Behind both rulings is Justice Pushpa Virendra Ganediwala, who has come under public scrutiny.
Judge: 'Meritorious' judge appointed to Bombay HC in 2019
Justice Ganediwala was born in 1969 in Paratwada in Amravati District in Maharashtra.
Described as "meritorious," she was awarded Gold Medals in her B.Com., LL.B. and LL.M. examinations.
She had also cleared the NET-SET Examination in her first attempt.
She was directly appointed as District Judge in 2007, and in February 2019, she was appointed as an Additional Judge of Bombay High Court.
Case 1: Holding hands, unzipped pants not sexual assault
On January 15, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court had held that the act of holding hands of a minor, or the zip of the pants of the accused being open at the time does not constitute sexual assault as under Section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The case had only come to light recently.
Case 1: Case involved 50-year-old man molesting 5-year-old girl
The HC was hearing an appeal against an order convicting the accused, a 50-year-old man, of "aggravated sexual assault."
According to the complainant, the victim's mother, the accused had been seen holding the hands of her five-year-old daughter and taking her into a room with his pants unzipped.
The incident occurred in February 2018 at the complainant's house while she was away.
Fact: HC set aside charges of sexual assault
Although the court upheld the conviction for outraging the girl's modesty under Section 354A(1)(i) IPC and sexual harassment under Section 12 of the POCSO Act, the court set aside the charges of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.
Case 2: Pressing minor's breast without skin-to-skin contact not sexual assault
On January 19, the HC had ruled that the act of pressing a minor's breast does not constitute sexual assault under Section 7 of the POCSO Act.
In December 2016, the accused, a 39-year-old man, had allegedly groped a 12-year-old girl after luring her into his home.
The court acquitted the accused of sexual assault while upholding his conviction under other charges.
Supreme Court: Supreme Court stays HC order
The Supreme Court has stayed the release of the 39-year-old accused as Attorney General KK Venugopal mentioned before Chief Justice of India SA Bobde's court.
The AG said the verdict is a "disturbing conclusion" and "sets a dangerous precedent."
He told the court that the Centre will file a petition against the HC verdict by Thursday.
Other rulings: Ganediwala has delivered several key judgments in past
In September 2020, Ganediwala and another judge had directed Maharashtra government to make available sufficient staff and facilities for COVID-19 treatment.
She had also rejected a plea to postpone JEE in light of the pandemic.
Last October, she and another judge had directed government-run hospitals to constitute a panel and provide treatment to a pregnant woman who was denied hospital consultations after contracting COVID-19.
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Police allowed to question Arnab Goswami for 3 hours daily
HC grants interim relief to Mahesh Bhatt in defamation case
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