Supreme Court’s Verdict on Section 377 IPC
The Supreme Courts verdict on Section 377 IPC in the year 2013 has caused a massive shock to the LGBT community (Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals).
According to this verdict, homosexuality was declared to be a criminal offense, for which the individuals could serve up to 10 years of imprisonment, if they are found to violate the verdict.
In the year 2006, Delhi High Court had given the verdict in favor of homosexuality, where it declared that the relationship between two consenting adults is valid. The verdict also had a mention that homosexuality does not affect societies in any possible manner.
Interestingly, the Delhi High Court in 2004 had initially rejected the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for entirely scrapping the section 377 IPC, which was filed by the NAZ foundation. It was only after getting the Supreme Court directive, the Delhi High Court agreed to admit the case in the court.
In the year 2013, the Supreme Court had overruled the Delhi High Court verdict, thereby criminalizing all acts of homosexuality. This was declared by the 2 judge bench, and they explained that the act of homosexuality was against the law of nature, and natural human instincts.
However, the Supreme Court has further asked the government to look into the matter, and frame new laws if needed, according to the existing and the changing times. Intervention by the legislature is now being seen as the only hope for the LGBT community, who feel totally devastated on being criminalized for their life and sex choices.
Now the major question arising here is, “Has the Supreme Court has taken 2 step backwards by upholding the age old Victorian Law, that was framed by the British?”
This Supreme Court verdict is also seen to be conflicting with Article 14 (Fundamental right of freedom and expression) and Article 21 of the LGBTs (Right to life and liberty).
Also the biggest question here is, “Can the consenting adult citizens of India be criminalized based on their sexual preferences?”
Also, this verdict could impact the Government programs like the NACO (National Aids Control Organization), because the people from LGBT community will never come out in the open due to the fear of being targeted, or being branded as criminals.
What can the government do?
Congress, the ruling party in the center has committed itself to look into this matter, and frame new legislations to suit the changing times. However, the biggest difficulty the government is facing is from the principal opposition party, the BJP. They have upheld the Supreme Courts verdict on the Section 377 IPC, and have said that it is completely valid. According to them, homosexuality goes against the nature.
At this point of time, the government could file for review petition on this 2 bench verdict. They could also ask for the review petition to be handled by a bigger bench, of maybe 5 judges.