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Section 377: MHA to replace lawyer

The Home Ministry has decided to replace Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra as its counsel in the case on the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in the Supreme Court

The Home Ministry has decided to replace Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P P Malhotra as its counsel in the case on the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in the Supreme Court,which criminalises same-sex relations.

Malhotra had,at the previous hearing of the case on February 24,opposed homosexuality between consenting adults,embarrassing the ministry,which issued a clarification,distancing itself from his stand.

The ministry is also learnt to have decided to apprise the court of its stand that the Delhi High Court’s judgment decriminalising homosexuality is not legally erroneous.

When the Supreme Court bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadaya resumes hearing on the case after four days,the government won’t be represented by Malhotra but ASG Mohan Jain,who has been deputed by the Law Ministry following a written request from the Home Ministry.

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“There was some confusion at the last hearing. The Home Ministry asked us to depute another ASG in place of P P Malhotra and we have asked ASG Mohan Jain to appear for the Union of India,” a senior Law Ministry official told The Indian Express.

At the february 24 hearing on a bunch of appeals against the July 2009 judgment of the Delhi High Court striking down Section 377,Malhotra had told the Supreme Court that homosexuality was immoral and legalising it was not in tune with the country’s cultural practices. He also said that this section was largely being used to deal with those indulging in sexual abuse of children.

The Centre had decided against taking any stand before the SC on the matter on the advice of then Law Secretary T K Viswanathan,who had said there was no ground on the basis of which an appeal could be maintainable in the Supreme Court.

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Viswanathan had also suggested that making rape “gender-neutral”,as recommended by the Law Commission in 2000,could be a way to deal with the contentious issue.

First published on: 28-02-2012 at 12:22:09 am
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