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A few voices from leaders,mostly silence from parties

The BJP avoided any reaction,but opinion in the party appeared divided.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: December 12, 2013 1:29 am

Now that the Supreme Court has asked Parliament to decide on Section 377,its repeal appears unlikely with most political parties,barring the CPM and to an extent the Congress,evading the subject and others such as the Samajwadi Party welcoming the judgment.

The BJP avoided any reaction,but opinion in the party appeared divided. A number of individual MPs,however,spoke in favour of a repeal. These included union ministers Jairam Ramesh,Shashi Tharoor and Milind Deora and MPs from the Trinamool Congress and the JD(U).

Law Minister Kapil Sibal indicated the government will take the legislative route but added a rider: “If Parliament runs.” Just seven days are left in the the last working session of the 15th Lok Sabha.

“It is the prerogative of the Supreme Court under the Constitution to test the constitutionality of a law. They are exercising their prerogative. We have the prerogative to make laws. We shall exercise our prerogative,” Sibal said.

Asked for the Congress view,AICC spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said the party stands by the government. “I will take you back to the statement that (attorney general) Vahanvati had made in the Supreme Court… the government supports what the Delhi High Court had done and we support the government’s point of view,” Dikshit said. “With regard to bringing it in Parliament,the law minister has said the government will get it through… We stand by what he has said.”

The CPM,the only party whose leadership endorsed the high court ruling,stuck to its stand. “The government of the day will have to study the judgment and see what is to be done. Our stand is clear as far as decriminalisation is concerned. We are in favour of it,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said.

While UPA constituent National Conference questioned the order,the NCP said it has no views. “We will see as and when the bill comes,” NCP spokesperson D P Tripathi said. This was the standard response from the CPI,the DMK and the AIADMK too,though the CPI’s D Raja added,without elaborating,“No law should be used for criminalising citizens.”

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted,“Questions of morality or religion are not the issue. How can a lifestyle choice be illegal?”

BJP leaders showed a division in opinion. One senior leader said,“Persons with a natural preference of same-gender sex cannot be said to be against the order of nature,and this could have escaped being counted as an offence under Section 377.” Another leader,on the other hand,said homosexuality is something that could ideally be accommodated but “it will still not naturally fit in the psyche of the country at the moment”.

The JD(U)’s Shivanand Tiwari said he was not “in agreement with the Supreme Court decision”. The SP’s Naresh Agarwal differed,saying,“Indian society is not prepared for it (homosexuality).” The Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien termed the judgment a disappointment.

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