Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday expressed her disappointment over the Supreme Court’s judgement that consensual sex between adults of the same gender is an offence.
While expressing her displeasure over the SC ruling, Sonia expressed hope in the Parliament to guarantee of life and liberty to all the citizens of the country.
The UPA chairperson described the earlier Delhi High Court verdict as wise. She said: “The HC had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on basic human rights.”
Here is Sonia Gandhi`s full statement:
“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has reversed a previous Delhi High Court ruling on the issue of gay rights. The HC had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on basic human rights enshrine din our Constitution. This Constitution has given us a great legacy, a legacy of liberalism of openness, that enjoin us to combat prejudice and discrimination of any kind. We are proud that our culture has always been an inclusive and tolerant one. The Sc also suggested another course. I hope the Parliament will address this issue and uphold the constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens of India, including those affected by this judgement.”
The Congress 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.