What is Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code:Here is everything you need to know
New Delhi : The long awaited verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) ends up with a happy note. The five Supreme Court judges, on September 6, 2018, declared that Homosexuality is not a crime in India anymore and it is not a mental disorder. The verdict is indeed a great step for gay rights in the country. Today, the apex court has overruled its own 2013 decision and partially struck down Section 377, a British-era law that banned consensual gay sex.
The Supreme Court gave a historic judgement saying that sexual orientation is natural and people have no control over it. It is remarkably a major victory for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community that has been struggling hard to legalise gay sex in India. "The law must be interpreted as per the requirement of changing times," said the SC in its judgement.
Also, chief justice of India, Dipak Misra said "We have to bid adieu to prejudices and empower all citizens. Any discrimination on the basis of sexuality amounts to a violation of fundamental rights."
Now, if you don't know what Section 377 is, then here is a brief about the law according to IPC
Section 377 of the IPC states: “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 fine.” This is an age-old British law which dates back to 1861.
In 2009, the Delhi High Court described Section 377 as a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The decision raised agitation among few religious groups who approached Supreme Court for judgement against the verdict.
In 2013, the Supreme Court overruled the Delhi High Court’s order and reinforced criminalisation of homosexuality stating that Parliament’s job was to scrap laws The judgement was highly criticised by the LGBTQ community in India and was seen as a setback for human rights.
In January 2018, the Supreme Court said that a group of judges would review the previous judgement examine Section 377’s constitutional validity. The court finally said that, “the section of people who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear.”
On July 10, 2018, SC constituted Five-judge Constitutional bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra and began hearing the petitions challenging Section 377.