Supreme Court likely to pronounce verdict on pleas challenging validity of Section 377 at 10.30 am tomorrow

The Supreme Court is set to deliver its verdict on the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code—which criminalises unnatural sex—at 10.30 am on Thursday, according to several media reports.

The apex court on 17 July reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377. The five-judge constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra asked all sides to submit their written submissions by 20 July.

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

 Supreme Court likely to pronounce verdict on pleas challenging validity of Section 377 at 10.30 am tomorrow

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce verdict on Thursday on a batch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 377. Reuters

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

Justice Nariman disagreed with counsel Manoj George, who was representing Apostolic Alliance of Churches, and said 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 sexual intercourse but  unprotected sex, Justice Chandrachud said, pointing out 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 bench. The top court earlier decided to reconsider the constitutional validity of Section 377 on 8 January.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code refers to 'unnatural offences' and says whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

The issue of section 377 was first raised by an NGO, Naz Foundation, which in 2001 approached the Delhi High Court, which decriminalised sex between consenting adults of the same gender by holding the penal provision as "illegal". This 2009 judgment of the high court was overturned in 2013 by the apex court.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Sep 05, 2018 17:41:25 IST