The author of the infamous skin-to-skin judgement, Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Bombay High Court, has resigned. Ganediwala, a Bombay High Court additional judge, was not recommended for a permanent judgeship by the Collegium, nor was her term as an additional judge extended. As a result, her term was set to end on February 12 this year, but she chose to resign earlier. She intends to pursue arbitration and litigation before the Supreme Court and the High Court, according to sources.
The controversial skin-to-skin ruling by Justice Ganediwala in a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) in January of last year drew a lot of criticism. Incredibly, she had delivered a slew of contentious rulings in the same month
She reversed a conviction order in a judgement issued on January 14, 2021, after finding no evidence to support the prosecution’s case for rape (Jageshwar Wasudeo Kawle v. State of Maharashtra).
On January 15, 2021, she ruled that holding hands with a minor or having the accused’s pants zip open at the relevant time does not constitute sexual assault under Section 7 of the POCSO Act (Libnus v. State of Maharashtra). On January 19, she issued a third judgement, ruling that pressing a 12-year-old girl’s breast without removing her top does not qualify as “sexual assault” under Section 7 of POCSO (Satish Ragde v. State of Maharashtra).
This third ruling dubbed the “skin-to-skin” decision, sparked outrage and was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court.
Her term as an additional judge was supposed to end in February of last year, but it was extended for another year.
This year, however, no such extension was granted. While delivering the verdict, Justice Pushpa Ganediwala’s single-judge bench acquitted the man.
“Mere touching the minor’s chest will not amount to sexual assault,” Ganediwala added unless the accused removes the victim’s clothes or slid hands inside the garments, making it a physical contact.
“The acts of ‘holding the hands of the prosecutrix’ (female victim), or ‘opened the zip of the pant,’ in the opinion of this Court, does not fit in the definition of sexual assault,” the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court said a few days later while hearing a separate case.