In a spectacular leap for gay rights in the country, five Supreme Court judges declared Homosexuality as no offence in India and a rainbow moment in its history.
The Supreme Court overruled its own 2013 decision and partially struck down Section 377, a controversial British-era law that banned consensual gay sex. The ban is irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary, the judges said.
“Take me as I am,” said Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, toasting gay pride. “We have to bid adieu to prejudices and empower all citizens,” said Chief Justice Misra, reading out what he said was a consensus judgment. The judges also said: “Homosexuality not a mental disorder, treat LGBT without stigma.”
The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra in four separate but concurring judgments, legalised same-sex relations between consenting adults. The bench had reserved its verdict in the case on July 17.
It termed the 2013 judgment constitutionally impermissible. The apex court was hearing a clutch of petitions challenging criminalisation of homosexuality.The verdict Thursday was on five petitions moved by dancer Navtej Jauhar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hoteliers Aman Nath and Keshav Suri and business executive Ayesha Kapur.
During the four-day hearing earlier this year, the Centre had said it would not contest the petitions, and left the decision to the “wisdom of the court”. In its affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs said: “I state and submit that so far as the constitutional validity (of) Section 377 to the extent it applies to ‘consensual acts of adults in private’ is concerned, the Union of India would leave the said question to the wisdom of this Hon’ble Court.”