SC reserves order on Sec 377


New Delhi, July 17: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality.

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The court asked all sides to submit their written submissions by Friday.

Respondents who are opposing the petitions seeking to decriminalise homosexuality or gay sex — Apostolic Alliance of Churches and others — urged the court to leave the fate of Section 377 IPC to Parliament.

The respondents argued that decriminalizing the same-sex relationship would have a cascading effect on other statutes including the personnel laws and the spread of dreaded diseases like AIDS.

Justice Rohinton Nariman disagreed with counsel Manoj George, representing Apostolic Alliance of Churches, saying that there will be “no cascading effect” as all such references in other statutes will get deleted.

The cause of the sexually transmitted diseases was not the sexual intercourse but the unprotected sex, Justice Chandrachud said, pointing that a village woman may get infected with the disease from a husband who is a migrant worker.

His remark came as senior counsel K. Radhakrishnan sought to present a spectre of widespread HIV and AIDS if Section 377 was decriminalised.

The court said it was duty-bound to strike down a law that is in conflict with the fundamental rights and not to leave it to majoritarian government to address it.

“The moment we are convinced that a law is violative of the fundamental rights, we will strike it down and not relegate it to legislature,” said the five-judge constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra.