SC to hear curative plea on gay sex; gives hope to LGBT

Last Updated 22 April 2014, 12:44 IST

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear in open court curative plea of gay rights activists against its order of criminalising gay sex, giving a ray of hope to LGBT community that the controversial verdict may be reconsidered and modified.

Curative petition is the last judicial resort available for redressal of grievances in court which is normally decided by Judges in chamber without giving parties to argue. In rare cases such petitions are given an open court hearing.

A four-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam decided to give an open court hearing to a bunch of petitions filed by gay rights activists, an NGO Naz Foundation and other persons including noted film director Shyam Benegal challenging the apex court's verdict upholding the validity of Section 377 of IPC which makes gay sex an offence punishable up to life imprisonment.

"List in the court next week," the bench, also comprising justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya, said in its brief order.

The petitioners, including Naz Foundation which has been spearheading the legal battle on behalf of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, contended that there was an error in the judgement delivered on December 11 last year as it was based on old law.

The apex court had earlier dismissed a batch of review petitions filed by the Centre and gay rights activists against its December 2013 verdict declaring gay sex an offence.

The court had said it did not see any reason to interfere with the December 11, 2013 verdict and had also rejected the plea for oral hearing on the review petitions which are normally decided by judges in-chamber.

The Supreme Court had on December 11, 2013 set aside the Delhi High Court judgement decriminalising gay sex and thrown the ball in Parliament's court for amending the law.

The judgement revived the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment in a setback to people fighting a battle for recognition of their sexual preferences. 

While setting aside the July 2, 2009 judgement of the Delhi High Court, the apex court had held that Section 377 (unnatural sexual offences) of the IPC does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and that the declaration made by the high court is legally unsustainable.

Amid huge outrage against the judgement, the Centre had also filed a review petition in the apex court seeking relook to "avoid grave miscarriage of justice to thousands of LGBT" persons who have been aggrieved by the apex court judgement contending it is "unsustainable" as it "suffers from errors".

The gay rights activists and organisations had said thousands from the LGBT community disclosed their sexual identity during the past four years after the high court decriminalised gay sex and they are now facing threat of being prosecuted.

They had submitted that criminalising gay sex amounts to violation of fundamental rights of the LGBT community. 

(Published 22 April 2014, 12:44 IST)

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