Section 377: Government to take the Ordinance route?
Supreme Court of India on 11 December 2013 set aside the Delhi High Court`s verdict, which had decriminalised gay sex among consenting adults in private in 2009.
Zee Media Bureau/Manisha Singh
New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India on 11 December 2013 set aside the Delhi High Court`s verdict, which had decriminalised gay sex among consenting adults in private in 2009, resulting in heated debate all across the country as to whether the time had come to do away with the archaic law.
Predictably, the gay rights activists and the LGBT community`s reaction was that of shock and anger and the Twitter world too was abuzz with comments on the SC ruling. Politicians cutting across party lines expressed disappointment with the verdict saying that the present day India was progressive enough to let people choose the way they wanted to live. However, political parties like the Samajwadi Party upheld the verdict by the apex court.
Ministers from the UPA government on Wednesday were cautious in their reaction with Kapil Sibal saying that it was the court`s prerogative to test the constitutionality of the law, and Manish Tewari saying that the government will look into it after studying the judgement.
However, the Congress upped the ante and criticised the ruling by the SC today after Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi expressed concern regarding basic human rights guaranteed to everyone by the Constitution.
Whereas, Rahul said that he agreed more with the HC verdict and said that it was matter of personal freedom, Sonia said that the HC had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on the basic human rights enshrined in the constitution. At the same time she the hoped that Parliament would address the issue and uphold the Constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens of India.
Thus, with both Sonia and Rahul coming out in support of gay rights activists and the LGBT community, speculations are rife that the government might be mulling either a review petition or take the Ordinance route.
The Supreme Court too, while upholding the constitutional validity of the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with upto life imprisonment, had put the onus on Parliament to take a decision on the issue, saying it was for the legislature to debate and decide on the matter.
Meanwhile, the BJP has by and large remained non-committal on the issue and the SP and the BSP too seem reluctant to make any changes in Section 377.
Section 377 is a 19th century statute of the Indian Penal Code that bans sex against the order of nature.