The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to examine a fresh Public Interest Litigation filed by a group of LGBT celebrities challenging the validity of penal provision incriminating gay sex.
A bench headed by Justice S A Bobde ruled that the new petition will be placed before the Chief Justice of India, T.S Thakur and it will be on him to decide if the petition is to be heard along with the other curative petitions pending in the apex court. Section 377 criminalises any ‘unnatural’ sexual contact by a person including acts of homosexuality.
Earlier in February the Supreme Court had agreed to re-examine the December 2013 verdict that re-criminalised gay sex. The Delhi high court, in a landmark verdict had de-criminalised gay sex, but this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court.
The celebrities, including chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and dancer N S Johar, have filed a petition seeking protection of their sexual rights as an integral part of their fundamental right to life. The petition says “sexual expression, in whatever form, between consenting adults in the privacy of a home ought to receive protection of fundamental rights.” Furthermore, it adds that the petitioners are “highly accomplished professionals who have been felicitated for their professional achievements, but have suffered because of the deleterious effect of this draconian law on their personal and professional lives.” All the petitioners plead that their lives have been “inexorably constricted and their rights infringed” by the penal provision.
The entire debate has shifted to the debate of, “sexual rights being a part of fundamental rights” and back in December 2013, India’s gay community had suffered a setback when the Supreme Court overturned a historic 2009 Delhi High Court ruling that had decriminalised homosexuality.
The court has now said that validity of section 377 in IPC is the main issue to be decided by a five- judge bench, the fresh petition should also be placed before the CJI, who will decide on its future.