Justice Pushpa V. Ganediwala, the Bombay High Court judge of the Nagpur bench who passed a controversial order on the POCSO Act on January 19, is back in news for a similar verdict. On January 15, she said in a judgement that holding a child’s hands and unzipping pants do not come under sexual assault as per the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

“The acts of ‘holding the hands of the prosecutrix’, or ‘opened zip of the pant’ as has been allegedly witnessed by PW-1 (the girl’s mother), in the opinion of this court, does not fit in the definition of ‘sexual assault’,” read the verdict.

A trial court had convicted the accused of sexual assault, though he challenged the order in Bombay High Court. In complaint, filed by the mother of the five-year-old victim, the accused had trespassed into her house, molested her daughter and caught holding her hand forcefully. She also “noticed that the zip of the pant of the appellant/accused (Libnus) was opened”.

Libnus was sentenced to five years imprisonment with fine of Rs 25,000 as per sections 354A(1)(i) (sexual harassment) and 448 (house trespass) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 8 (sexual assault), 10 (aggravated sexual assault) and 12 (sexual harassment) of the POCSO Act, 2012.

However, the High Court said that the allegations did not come under sexual assault as per the POCSO Act.

On January 19, Justice Ganediwala had passed an order saying that there must be “skin-to-skin” contact with sexual intent for an act to be considered sexual assault. However, the Supreme Court stayed the controversial verdict on Wednesday.