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After Law,now Home backs Court ruling on gay rights

Ministry of Home Affairs has decided against opposing the July 2 judgment of Delhi HC striking down provisions in Sec 377 of IPC that criminalised same-gender,consensual sex.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi |
September 2, 2009 9:13:07 am

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided against opposing the July 2 judgment of the Delhi High Court striking down provisions in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalised same-gender,consensual sex.

The Union Government is yet to inform the Supreme Court of its stand on Section 377 and the HC judgment. However,the Centre has already told the SC that it doesn’t want a stay on the verdict.

Sources said a Cabinet note prepared by the Union Law Ministry,likely to be distributed at the Cabinet meeting slated for Thursday,seeks the Cabinet’s OK to the MHA’s decision not to contest the Delhi High Court judgment. The Cabinet’s nod would also be sought to leave it to the Supreme Court to decide on the issue.

“There is nothing wrong,legally,with the judgment. It is a well-reasoned judgment. There is no purpose in opposing it. The government would like the Supreme Court,where appeals against the HC decision are pending,to decide the matter,” said a senior Law Ministry official.

Sources told The Indian Express that the MHA decision,which is supported by the Law Minister M Veerappa Moily and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad,draws strength from a note submitted by Law Secretary T K Vishwanathan. In his note,first reported by The Indian Express,Vishwanathan told the government that it was difficult to find any lacunae in the judgment. And that there were no sufficient grounds on the basis of which an appeal could be maintainable in the Supreme Court.

During hearing of the case before the HC,while the MHA strongly opposed any move to dilute Section 377,the Health Ministry took the opposite stand,supporting the contention of the petitioner that consensual,same-gender sex be decriminalised. The Law Ministry supported the MHA. Worried over the widening chasm between the ministries over the controversial issue,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had led the Cabinet in asking the three ministers to sit together and resolve their differences. After the return of the UPA to power,the ministers of Home,Law and Health held two meetings to discuss the issue.

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