Gay sex ruling: It’s a matter of personal freedom, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress` Rahul Gandhi said he agrees more with Delhi High Court`s earlier verdict, than with Supreme Court’s recent judgement deeming consensual sex between adults of the same gender as an offence.

By Hemant Abhishek | Last Updated: Dec 12, 2013, 19:17 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek

New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said he agrees more with the Delhi High Court`s earlier verdict, than with the Supreme Court’s recent judgement deeming consensual sex between adults of the same gender as an offence.

Addressing scribes, Rahul said, "My personal view is that these are matters of personal freedom and I think I would agree more with High Court (than with the SC verdict criminalising same-sex relations)."

"These are individual`s choices. This country is known for its freedom of expression," he added.

The Congress vice president’s reaction comes as the SC on Wednesday put the ball in Parliament`s court to consider the "desirability and propriety" of deleting or amending the penal provision making sexual intercourse between people of same sex as a criminal offence attracting punishment up to life imprisonment.

Many parliamentarians including Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram, Brinda Karat, Derek O’Brien have expressed unhappiness over the apex court’s order.

Setting aside the Delhi High Court verdict of 2009, the apex court bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice SJ Mukhopadhayay said: "We hold that Section 377 IPC does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and the declaration made by the division bench of the high court is legally unsustainable."

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Singhvi said: "We would like to make it clear that this court has merely pronounced on the correctness of the view taken by the Delhi High Court on the constitutionality of Section 377 IPC and found that the said section does not suffer from any constitutional infirmity."

"Notwithstanding this verdict", the court said "the competent legislature shall be free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 IPC from the statute book or amend the same as per the suggestion made by the attorney general."

Section 377 of the IPC that deals with unnatural offences 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 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine."

The bench said Parliament is authorised to delete or amend section 377 of IPC but till the time this penal provision is there, the court cannot legalise this kind of sexual relationship.