Three Union ministers are set to hold the much-awaited meeting on Tuesday to try and thrash out differences within the government on the issue of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Sources told The Indian Express that Union Law Secretary T K Vishwanathan will also be present when Home Minister P Chidambaram,Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily and Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad meet here.
Vishwanathan has already said it is difficult to find any lacunae in the recent judgment of the Delhi High Court which struck down provisions in the Section 377 that criminalised homosexuality.
At the meeting,the Law Secretary could be asked to explain the contours of the judgment as well as elaborate on his recommendation that making rape laws gender-neutral could be the way out of the imbroglio for the government.
As first reported by The Indian Express,Vishwanathan is learnt to have recommended that a March 2000 report of the Law Commission of India on the issue of review of provisions in the IPC and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) dealing with rape cases in the country could be the answer to the governments headache on the issue of Section 377.
The meeting of the three ministers was first held on July 3 but noting came out of it. The only decision taken at that meeting was to ask the Law Secretary to prepare a note on the issue.
The government will have to spell out its stand before the Supreme Court it has already sought and got time to decide by September 14,when the hearing of the appeals filed against the Delhi High Court judgment resumes. Among others,yoga expert Ramdev has challenged the judgment.
In his opinion,the Law Secretary has said the 172nd report of the Law Commission of India,which recommended repeal of Section 377 and making rape gender-neutral could be the way out.
At present,only a man can be charged under the offence of rape of a woman. A male member of the society cant levy rape allegations against anybody.
In its report,the Commission had recommended that instead of rape,those accused under Section 375 of the IPC should be accused of sexual assault. This would include forcible oral sex.
A senior officer of the Law Ministry didnt rule out the possibility of the three ministers deciding to place the matter before the Cabinet so as to avoid taking any decision on their own.