Published: Wed, July 11, 2018

Supreme Court hearing on Section 377 to continue today

Supreme Court hearing on Section 377 to continue today

The Supreme Court began hearing petitions against the ban on Tuesday, in the latest twist in a legal tussle between social and religious conservatives and more liberal Indians.

The new five-judge bench will be headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and would comprise justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. He pleaded the court for more time to file the Centre's reply if the arguments were beyond Section 377.

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At long last, the Central government has clarified its stance on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

As it stands, Section 377 of the colonial-era law says whoever has carnal intercourse "against the order of nature" with any man, woman or animal, will be punished with imprisonment for life. We can not celebrate it.

Setting out New Delhi's position on Wednesday, senior government lawyer Tushar Mehta said Delhi would leave whether to decriminalize homosexuality "to the wisdom" of the court.

Talking to The Logical Indian, one of the petitioners from IIT, Balachandra Ramiah said that this time they are hopeful that the court might make a landmark judgement by the end of the hearing.

Mr. Mehta made it clear that if the court ventures into aspects like same sex marriage, etc, the Centre would respond with a detailed affidavit showing "legitimate State interest" after "wider consultations in the government".

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today indicated that the 150-year-old ban on gay sex may soon be gone.

In 2009, the Delhi High Court had decriminalised Section 377, but the order was later set aside by an apex court bench.

The debate to decriminalise homosexuality got a shot in the arm when the apex court unanimously declared privacy as a fundamental right on 25 August 2017. "Today we are focusing on whether 377 is ultra vires or not", he told Rohatgi.

The apex court in its privacy judgment held that "discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual". "Those are individual issues we can not pre-judge now", said the bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, while outlining the broad issues which would be open for arguments.

"I am not appearing in the matter as I had appeared in the curative petition".

"Section 377 criminalises a core part of a person's identity exclusively on account of his or her sexuality".

The campaign for decriminalising gay sex also been bolstered by a supreme court ruling in August past year, which ruled that privacy, including a person's sexuality, was a fundamental right.

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