New Delhi July 02 (ANI): In a landmark judgement the Delhi High Court today decriminalised homosexuality.
A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah, and Justice S Muralidahr said the criminalisation of gay sex among consenting adults is a violation of fundamental rights.
The verdict is the first of its kind by an Indian court on a 19th century law that treats homosexuality as a criminal offence.
Since the 1980s, courts in countries such as Britain, Australia, South Africa and the US have struck down similar laws that made same-sex activity a crime.
Quashing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) the high court said any kind of discrimination is the anti-thesis to the right to equality.
Chief Justice Shah and Justice Muralidhar had earlier reserved their order on November 7 last year after marathon proceedings in which the government had vociferously opposed the scrapping of Section 377 which prescribes punishment upto life imprisonment for indulging in unnatural sexual acts.
The petitioners, including the voluntary Naz Foundation, pleaded that the criminal provision against homosexual behaviour should be scrapped.
The Home and Health ministries however maintained different views.
The home ministry wants the petition to be dismissed, while the health ministry supported the contention that Section 377 criminalize homosexuality per se, and was obstructing HIV/AIDS prevention efforts among high-risk groups.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) says an individual who "voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" shall be imprisoned for life or for a term exceeding 10 years and be liable to pay a fine. (ANI)