The Supreme Court Thursday agreed to consider an open court hearing of curative petitions, filed by gay rights activists against its verdict on criminalising homosexuality.
“We will go through the papers and consider… we will definitely consider,” said a Bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam as a group of senior lawyers appearing for the LGBT rights activists pleaded for an open court hearing.
Curative petition is the last legal resort to get a verdict overturned. It is usually considered by judges in-chamber unless an application for an open court hearing is overtly allowed.
The petitioners, including NGO Naz Foundation and Voices Against 377, which have been spearheading the legal battle on behalf of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, claimed that the SC judgment of December 11 last required a re-look since the court had ignored various developments in law.
“The judgment was reserved on March 27, 2012 but it was delivered after around 21 months. During this long period, lots of changes took place, including amendment in laws. But these changes were failed to be considered by the Bench which delivered the judgment,” senior advocate Ashok Desai told the Bench.
He said the curative petition should be heard in open court so to accord them adequate opportunity to argue on the legal points. Other advocates, including Harish Salve, Mukul Rohatgi, Anand Grover, also requested for an open court hearing.
They also said the case should have been heard by a Constitution Bench instead of a two-judge Bench, which delivered the verdict.
The court has already dismissed a batch of review petitions filed by the Centre and gay rights activists against its December 2013 verdict, declaring gay sex an offence punishable up to life imprisonment.
Withdrawing the legal protection to what it called “so-called rights” from a “minuscule fraction of the country’s population” comprising lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders (LGBT), the SC had ruled that Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code will continue making gay sex – “irrespective of age and consent” – an offence punishable with a sentence up to life term.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.