The Supreme Court Collegium is understood to have withdrawn its approval to a proposal for the appointment of an additional judge of the Bombay high court, Justice P V Ganediwala, as a permanent judge of the court following her two controversial verdicts in sexual assault cases.
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, a source said.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala recently acquitted a man accused of groping a 12-year-old girl's breast because he did not make skin-to-skin contact and days earlier, 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 K K Venugopal said the order would set a dangerous precedent.
The collegium headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, at a meeting held on January 20, had okayed the proposal for making Justice Ganediwala a permanent judge.
In two other judgments this month, Justice Ganediwala acquitted two men accused of raping minor girls after noting that the testimonies of the victims did not inspire confidence to fix criminal liability on the accused.
"No doubt the testimony of the prosecutrix (victim) is sufficient for conviction of the accused. However, the same ought to inspire confidence of this court. It ought to be of sterling quality," she said in one of the judgments.
Justice Pushpa Virendra Ganediwala was born on March 3, 1969 at Paratwada in Maharashtra's Amravati district.
She was a panel advocate for various banks and insurance companies and was also an honorary lecturer in various colleges of Amravati and gave lectures to the MBA and LLM students of the Amravati University.
She was directly appointed as a district judge in 2007 and was elevated as an additional judge of the Bombay high court on February 13, 2019.
Besides the CJI, justices N V Ramana and R F Nariman are part of the three-member collegium, which takes decisions with regard to high court judges.