New Delhi, Sep 6: The Supreme Court is expected to pronounce on Thursday its much-awaited verdict on a batch of petitions seeking decriminalisation of 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 of the IPC which criminalises consensual gay sex.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had reserved its verdict on July 17 after hearing various stakeholders, including LGBTQIA+ rights activists and religious outfits, for four days.
Here is All you need to know about Sec 377 Verdict
What is Section 377?
Section 377 of the IPC refers to 'unnatural offences' and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the or der of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punis ed with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 year s, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.
When was the issue first raised?
The issue of Section 377 was first raised by an NGO, Naz Foundation, which approached the Delhi High Court in 2001. The HC decriminalised sex between consenting adults of the same gender by holding the penal provision as "illegal".
December 2012: Supreme Court sets aside order
The Supreme Court overturned this 2009 judgement of the Delhi High Court, thereby restoring the criminality of the sexual relationship between persons of the same sex. The apex court also dismissed the pending review plea against which the curative petitions were filed.
Modi govt's stance on Section 377
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government was sworn in in 2014, it said it would take a decision regarding Section 377 only after the SC judgment.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Shashi Tharoor, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O' Brien, CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat, the Aam Aadmi Party among others had come out in support of the LGBT community and had said that homosexuality should be decriminalised.
August 2017: SC upholds Right to Privacy
The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment in August 2017, held Right to Privacy as a fundamental right. It also observed that "sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy". It said that the "right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution".
Case reopened in 2018
The country's top court began hearing petitions against the ban on July 10, beginning an emotional debate in the world's largest democracy over the right to freedom and privacy. The bench made it clear that it was not going into the curative petitions and would adjudicate on the fresh writ petitions in the matter. Between July 10 and July 17, the bench heard detailed arguments for four days. On July 17, it reserved its verdict.
On July 11, the Centre told the Supreme Court that it would leave it to the wisdom of its judges to decide on the constitutional validity of Section 377.
What SC said during July'18 hearing
The SC observed that an environment has been created in Indian society over the years that has led to deep-rooted discrimination against the community which has also adversely impacted their mental health. Referring to the provision of the Mental Health Care Act, the bench said "it also recognises the fact that such persons cannot be discriminated against on the ground of sexual orientation".
Homosexuality a taboo
Homosexuality is considered a taboo in a largely conservative Indian society which appears to be divided on the controversial issue. Freedom loving people (not necessarily belonging to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender or LGBT community) want homosexuality de-criminalised but many still consider it a "deviant behaviour" and not merely a question of one's sexual orientation or preference.