Yet another setback for gay rights activists and sympathizers across the nation as the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday declined to review its December 11 verdict criminalizing homosexuality.
In a verdict that bagged mixed responses from various corners in the country’s civil society, the apex court on December 11 banned homosexuality under Section 377 of the IPC. In its ruling, the court had stated that under existing laws, homosexuality or “unnatural sex” between two consenting adults was an illegal act and would be treated as an offense.
The decision drew sharp criticism from gay right activists and sympathizers across the country and abroad. However, a number of religious and right wing groups openly expressed their support for the judgment. The political fraternity also found itself divided into two distinct quarters. While the ruling Indian National Congress openly stood against the verdict, a number of leaders from the principal opposition party BJP welcomed the ruling saying that it did justice to the social fabric of India.
The Central government and Naz Foundation, alongside a number of gay rights activists subsequently filed a petition seeking a review of the Supreme Court judgment.
“There has been a sea-change, not just in India, but all over the world, with respect to the law on homosexuality. A majority of the countries across the world have legalised homosexuality. Even in India, Section 377 IPC was introduced not as a reflection of existing Indian values and traditions, but rather, it was imposed upon Indian society due to the moral values of the colonizers. Indian society prior to the enactment of the IPC had a much greater tolerance towards homosexuality,” the Center stated in support of its decision to file the petition.
“The apex court has failed to consider the dynamic nature of the law, particularly with respect to homosexuality. The view adopted by this Court is contrary to the principles enshrined in the law down i.e. that the Court cannot allow itself to be tied down by and become captive of a view which in the light of the subsequent experience has been found to be patently erroneous, manifestly unreasonable or to cause hardship or to result in plain iniquity or public inconvenience,” it added.
However, a bench comprising of Justices S.J. Mukhopadhaya and H.L. Dattu dismissed the review petition urging that there were no grounds for interference. Referring to Section 377 and its earlier judgment, the bench stated that the provision did not suffer from any constitutional infirmity whatsoever.