Sec 377: Media fails to give the full picture

Written by: Shrinivas S Hunashikatti
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To make it very clear it's 'Section 377' not an 'Article 377' as noted newspaper published it few days back, and it also had it corrected in next editions, but not by some private biggies of television mews media.

Though many people may hardly notice the difference when news is read in TV as it is more of visual stunts these days, which divert hearing. Other day when i was watching debates and discussions over Delhi high court verdict on 'Section 377' news anchor goes on uttering as "Article 377" in spite of correction by veteran panelist. It's very essential for TV anchors to be technically correct on these matters, as it might throw bad impression to international audience about Indian media, and also there are many UPSC and other competitive exams aspirants who follow news very closely.

One more thing is verdict is misunderstood by many people as I see from responses from different communities and prominent leaders. To repeat the Delhi High Court[Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Murlidhar] verdict on IPC Section 377 is pronouced as:

"We declare section 377 of IPC in so far as it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private is violative of Articles 21 [Right to Protection of Life and Personal Liberty], 14 [Right to Equality before Law] and 15 [Prohibition of Discrimination on Grounds of Religion, Race, Caste, Sex or Place of Birth] of the Constitution."

"We hold that sexual orientation is a ground analogous to sex, and that discrimination on sexual orientation is not permitted under Article 15."

The Court also clarifies that "the provisions of Section 377 will continue to govern non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non-vaginal sex involving minors."

Judges further goes on to add that adult they meant 'every one who is 18 years and above'. "A person below 18 would be presumed not to be able to consent to a sexual act."

The Bench further said that “this clarification will hold till, of course, Parliament chooses to amend the law to effectuate the recommendation of the Law Commission of India in its 172nd Report which, we believe, removes a great deal of confusion." and clarify that it would not result in re-opening of criminal cases involving Section 377 that had already attained finality.

The verdict came on a PIL plea by Delhi-based non-government organisation Naz Foundation that the Section 377 provision criminalising sexual acts between consenting adults in private violated Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

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