The College of Supreme Court has reportedly withdrawn its recommendation to convict an additional Bombay Supreme Court judge after a series of controversial judgments it recently pronounced, two of which have attracted national attention. In a ruling, the judge ruled that a person accused of fondling a 12-year-old girl should not receive the maximum sentence under the Child Protection from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) of 2012 because there is none Skin injury gave skin contact. In the second case, she concluded that a man who holds the hands of an underage girl and unzips his pants is convicted not of “sexual assault” under the POCSO law, but of “sexual harassment” under the Indian Criminal Code can be. The Supreme Court remained the first order the next day, but its college decided to send the college’s recommendation to make it permanent. That decision has now gone back.
The two rulings sparked widespread outrage, both in public and in legal circles. And there are also many good reasons. The judge refused to understand the legislative intent of the POCSO Act, a special law designed to protect the interests of children, one of the most vulnerable sections of society. The Apex court rightly ruled that the judge needed better awareness of the issue.
This is not the first time a judgment has attacked fair people’s sense of justice. A ruling by the Supreme Court referred to satisfying the “collective conscience of society” while confirming the death penalty. This is not the first time a well-designed law has been turned on its head. A prime example is the National Judicial Appointments Commission’s law of 2014 to replace the homemade college system for appointing judges in the higher judiciary. It is time for the judiciary to take steps to correct itself, and this could be an important step in that direction.