New Delhi : In another setback to the gay community, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to re-look at its verdict criminalising gay sex in the country.
The two-judge bench of justices H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya held in-chamber proceedings and dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by the Centre and gay rights activists, including noted filmmaker Shyam Benegal, against its December 2013 verdict declaring gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment.
With the dismissal of the review plea, the petitioners are left with only one option – they can file a curative petition and seek relief.
“We have gone through the review petitions and the connected papers. We see no reason to interfere with the order. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” the bench said in its brief order.
It also rejected the plea for oral hearing on the review petitions which are normally decided by judges in chamber without giving an opportunity to parties to present their views. The Supreme Court had on December 11 set aside the Delhi High Court judgement de-criminalising gay sex and thrown the ball into Parliament’s court for amending the law.
Following a huge outcry over the apex court judgement, the Centre had filed a review petition in the apex court. The government, in its petition, had said that “Section 377 of the IPC, insofar it criminalizes consensual sexual acts in private, falls foul of the principles of equality and liberty enshrined in our Constitution”.
It argued that Section 377, which criminalizes intercourse “against the order of nature,” is a reflection of outdated sodomy laws of Britain, which were transplanted into India in 1860.
Section 377 provides for life imprisonment or jail term up to 10 years for anyone who “voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.
The apex court judgement also revived the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment.
Challenging the verdict, Naz Foundation had said in its review plea that the verdict is contrary to the well-settled legal principles of the Constitution and proscribing certain sexual acts between consenting adults in private demeans and impairs the dignity of all individuals under Article 21, irrespective of their sexual orientation.