The Supreme Court Monday refused to defer Tuesday’s scheduled hearing on a batch of petitions challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it will not postpone the hearing after the Centre sought more time to file its reply.
The bench said the matter had been pending since some time and the Centre should have filed its reply earlier. “It will not be adjourned… We will go ahead with the scheduled hearing… You file whatever you want during the hearing,” the bench told the Centre’s counsel.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by the CJI will begin hearing the petitions Tuesday. Others on the bench are Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
In July 2009, the Delhi High Court had read down the provision in so far as it criminalised same sex relations in private.
However, in December 2013, the Supreme Court set aside the High Court order and asked Parliament to bring a law if it wanted to decriminalise it. Later, the apex court also dismissed the Centre’s review plea on the subject.
In August 2017, the Supreme Court, in its landmark privacy ruling, termed sexual orientation as an essential attribute of privacy. This rekindled hopes in the LGBT community and fresh petitions came to be filed in the apex court which referred them for hearing to a Constitution Bench.