Supreme Court to hear plea today for relook at verdict on gay sex

Upholding the validity of section 377, the court had set aside the Delhi High Court verdict of July 2, 2009 by which it had read down section 377 and decriminalized consensual sex between the adults of same gender.

By: IANS | New Delhi | Updated: February 2, 2016 2:44 pm
section 377, sec 377 supreme court, supreme court verdict gay sex, section 377 india, gay sex in india, homosexuality in india, supreme court, transgenders india, india news Activist, members and supporters of LGBT community in Kolkata during demonstration in front of New Market Kolkata against the 377 verdict on Sunday. (Express photo by Partha Paul. Kolkata. 15.12.13)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hold an open court hearing of the curative petition by NGO Naz Foundation seeking relook at its verdict upholding the validity of Indian Penal Code’s section 377 criminalising gay sex.

A bench of three seniormost judges – Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar – would hold the open court of the issue that caused flutters both in legal circles and amongst gay rights activitsts after top court by its December 12, 2013 upheld the validity of section 377.

The apex court by its order of December 12, 2013 and subsequently in the review petition on January 28, 2014, upheld the validity of section 377, finding no constitutional infirmity in the penal provision that criminalises homosexuality.

Upholding the validity of section 377, the court had set aside the Delhi High Court verdict of July 2, 2009 by which it had read down section 377 and decriminalized consensual sex between the adults of same gender.

The then bench of Chief Justice P.Sathasivam, Justice R.M.Lodha, Justice H.L.Dattu and Justice S.J.Mukhopadhaya (all retired since then) had on April 3, 2014, directed the hearing of the curative petition in open court after they considered the plea by Naz Foundation in their chambers.

The NGO had moved the Supreme Court seeking to cure “gross miscarriage of justice” in its judgment upholding the validity of section 377. It had contended that 2013 amendment to section 375, which deals with rape, had held consensual sex between an adult male and woman was not an offence.

The curative petition had said that by implication, such sexual acts between man and woman, which are consensual, are no longer prohibited.

Consequently, these consensual acts between man and woman have been taken out of the ambit of section 377, otherwise the amended Section 375 would be rendered redundant, it contended, adding that section 377 now effectively only criminalises all forms of penetrative sex, including, penile-anal sex and penile oral sex, which makes it ex facie discriminatory against homosexual men and transgender persons and thus violative of article 14 of the constitution.

It had said that the amendments to section 375 were carried out after the judgment in the gay sex case was reserved and the parties did not have a chance to address the court on the issue, and the court ought to have heard the parties on the effect of the amendments to section 375 on Section 377.

The curative petition said that court had erred in upholding the classification between carnal intercourse in the ordinary course of nature and carnal intercourse against the order of nature under section 377, without recording a finding on the carnal intercourse against the order of nature. And whether there is a rational nexus with the object of legislation on this count.

The impugned judgment, it said, “reflects an issue bias against the LGBT persons, as evident from such observations like “the so-called rights of LGBT persons” and “miniscule fraction of the country’s population” which vitiates the judgment and renders it a nullity.