Archive Explains

Why is the Supreme Court set to Re-Examine Section 377 of IPC?

RTIwala Explains: The Supreme Court is all set to reconsider the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The controversial section is based on criminalizing homosexuality. Owing to fresh petitions relating to the citizen’s Right to Privacy, the country’s apex court has decided to review earlier judgments.

What is Section 377 of the IPC?

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was introduced during the British Rule and criminalizes “sexual activities against nature”.

“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 case came into the limelight in the year 2009 when it was decriminalized by the Delhi High Court. The judgment was then overturned by the Supreme Court of India on 11 December 2013, amending or repealing that it should be decided by the Parliament and not the judiciary.

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The petition for the case was filed by five people who belong to the LGBT community. They were affirmative on the note that when the Supreme Court has itself declared the Right to Privacy being a fundamental right, they cannot be denied their right to sexual privacy. The petitioners said that they lived in a state of fear because of Section 377 and that the 2013 judgment ignored harassment and problems arising out of the law.

What would be SC hearing on this Homosexuality?

RTIwala Explains Act 377
(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In a largely conservative Indian society where homosexuality is considered as a taboo, the common man seems to be divided on the controversial issue. The Supreme Court bench had a previous observation that the earlier judgment on section 377 had hurt the sentiments of many people. Here’s what the debate comprised of:

‘What is natural to one, may not be natural to the other’.

The bench further said that “societal morality changes with time and law walk with life. A section of people can’t live in fear because of their individual choices”. The court has asked the petitioners to provide a copy of the petition to the central government office. The ‘Right to Privacy’ states for the right of living of a human without being discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, as it is deeply offensive to the dignity of the individual.

Is there a hope for the LGBT community?

RTIwala Explains Act 377
(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The five main protagonists who filed the petition are Bharatnatyam dancer Navtej Johar, culture expert Aman Nath, restaurateurs Ritu Dalmia and Ayesha Kapur and media person Sunil Mehra. They believe that SC’s this action will bring back them some hope and societal life with complete dignity.

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The society is comprised of freedom loving people who may not be belonging to the gay-community want homosexuality to be decriminalized but on the other hand many still consider it a “deviant behavior”.

The society of LGBT community is in a very small fraction of the 1.2 Billion of the citizens of India, but at the end what matters is freedom to chose, freedom of expression. Be it an LGBT person or not, humanity is what matters the most. Every individual is a human being and has a right to live life as per their choice and with due respect. The violation of such human rights goes against the liberal values of the Constitution.

Meanwhile as the final call rests in the hands of the apex court of the country, we sincerely hope that no right of any individual would be held in jeopardy.

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