#377Verdict: Supreme Court refers petition to five-judge bench

| Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 17:43
First Published |
Section 377 verdict
Marking a step forward for all the LGBT community in the subcontinent, the Supreme Court has today decided to refer the curative petition of the 2013 judgment to a five-judge bench. Essentially consisting of three judges, the matter for gay rights has been further spread to an open court hearing consisting of five judges. 
The open hearing of the curative petition will, if ruled in favour of constitutional rights for LGBT, prove as a historic decision taken by the highest authority of India. This open hearing amidst a five-judge bench is being interpreted as a step forward as it will enable further study and probable re-enactment of a constitution in favour of LGBT people. 
The law, which dates back to 1860, prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal."
Kapil Sibal and Anand Grover are prominent voices among the LGBT supporters as the duo argued in favour of the activists. A total of eight petitions have been filed and a relook into the 2013 curative petition is being sought from the Supreme Court. 
Speaking on the development, Former Minister of Finance P. Chidambaram said, "Hope Supreme Court will uphold judgement of Delhi High Court on Gay rights." 
Lending his voice to the LGBT community, Congress member Randeep Sujrewala, said, "We have always believed that who you want to love is a matter of personal choice. Section 377, as far as the LGBT community is concerned, needs to be decriminalised. Delhi HC judgement was a welcome step."
Shashi Tharoor of the Congress who has been campaigning for gay sex to be legalized, had introduced a private member’s bill in the Lok Sabha in December. But his attempt to amend a British colonial era law which punishes homosexual sex with up to 10 years imprisonment, was thwarted by the members of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In 2009, a Delhi High Court Division Bench comprising of Justice A.P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar in its 105-page order, had struck down the provision of Section 377 of IPC, saying that it violated the fundamental right of life and liberty and the right to equality as guaranteed in the Constitution.
But the SC threw out the 2009 ruling by the Delhi HC and said that only the parliament could change Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, widely interpreted to refer to homosexual sex.
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