The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a notice to Centre seeking its reply on a plea challenging section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises unnatural sex between two consenting adults of the same gender. The petition was filed by a group of 20 former and current students of the prestigious IITs including scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs and researchers of different age group, who all are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgenders (LGBT).

The group has claimed that criminalisation of sexual orientation has resulted in a sense of shame, loss of self-esteem and stigma. The plea was filed on the behalf of LGBT alumni association of the IITs, which claims to have over 350 members.

Notably, among the petitioners, youngest is a 19-year-old student of IIT Delhi while oldest one graduated from an IIT in 1982.

Earlier, Supreme court had referred several pleas filed by eminent citizens and Naaz Foundation, challenging the 2013 apex court verdict which had re-criminalised gay sex between consenting adults, to a constitutional bench.

Section 377 of the IPC refers to ‘unnatural offences’ and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse “against the order of nature” with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

The plea filed by the group of IITians said,“The petitioners contend that the continued existence of section 377 severely curtails the protection of equality, dignity, liberty and expression that the Constitution guarantees to all Indian citizen,”

“The stigma, silence and violence that section 377 brings in its wake, deeply hurt the petitioners’ professional promise and personal fulfilment,” it said.

The petitioners have urged the Apex court to settle the issue once and for all as the government and Parliament had been reluctant to examine it.

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