Rights

Supreme Court Refers Petition on Homosexuality to CJI’s Bench

Supporters of LGBT rights protesting the Decmeber 11, 2013, decision of the Supreme Court that upheld section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Credit: PTI

Supporters of LGBT rights protesting the December 11, 2013, decision of the Supreme Court that upheld section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today, June 29, referred the plea of individuals, claiming to be part of the LGBT community and seeking the quashing of section 377 of the Indian penal code, which criminalises homosexuality in the country, to a bench already seized of the matter.

A bench comprising justices S.A. Bobde and Ashok Bhushan said the matter would be listed before a bench headed by the chief justice of India for appropriate orders.

During the hearing, senior advocate Arvind Datar said the plea should be tagged to the curative petition pending in the court.

“Let the matter be listed for the chief justice for appropriate orders,” the bench said, referring to T.S. Thakur.

The individuals who have moved the Supreme Court include chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and dancer N.S. Johar. They have sought the protection of their sexual rights on the ground that these are an integral part of the fundamental right to life.

The petitioners say their lives have been “inexorably constricted and their rights infringed” by the penal provision.

“Despite their achievements and contributions to India in various fields, they are being denied the right to sexuality, the most basic and inherent of fundamental rights. Section 377 renders them criminals in their own country,” their plea says, referring to members of the larger LGBT community.

Earlier, a Supreme Court bench headed by chief justice Thakur had agreed to hear the curative plea of NGO Naz Foundation and gay rights activists.

Earlier this year, on February 2, the court had referred the curative plea to a five-judge constitution bench for re-examining the two-year-old verdict by which a colonial law criminalising consensual sexual acts between the same sex under section 377 was restored.

The curative plea was filed against the dismissal of their petition seeking a review of the 2013 judgement of the apex court upholding the validity of section 377 (unnatural sexual offences) of IPC.

Now, Dalmia, Johar and others have filed a fresh writ petition to quash the penal provision.

Naz Foundation had filed a petition in December 2001 in the Delhi high court, which had on July 2, 2009, decriminalised Section 377. After refusing twice to entertain pleas against section 377, the Supreme Court had on February 2 referred the issue to a five-judge bench.

(PTI)