How JGU law professors contributed to SC's 377 ruling (Lead, correcting para 3,8)

Sonipat : Four law professors of the O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) have been cited by the Supreme Court in its landmark judgment last week decriminalising homosexuality in India.

In the historic verdict, the top court struck down the archaic 158-year-old Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalised gay sex, as "manifestly arbitrary".

Among the intellectual inputs cited by the apex court are those of the four professors -- Dipika Jain, John Sebastian, Danish Sheikh and Saptarshi Mandal -- from the varsity's Jindal Global Law School (JGLS).

These inputs support important points made in the landmark decision that has advanced the values of constitutionalism, equality, non-discrimination and justice.

"This is an important victory not only for the LGBTIQ community but also for generations of activists who have fought the legal battle for over 25 years in the courts," said Jain, Associate Professor at JGLS, in a statement from the university.

"It will also inspire other countries to follow suit and safeguard marginalised groups in their own jurisdictions. Like all other progressive legal pronouncements, this is only a beginning of an aspiration for an egalitarian society," Jain added.

Jain has also been cited in the court's recognition of the constitutional right to health, as part of the evolving rights framework under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The verdict about the redundancy of Section 377, in the light of the 2013 amendment to the IPC, was made with reference to an essay written by Sebastian, while the judgment on the right to privacy was drawn upon essays written by Professors Sheikh and Mandal.

To understand how LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) persons are deprived access to justice, the court also drew on a report co-written by Sheikh, in his capacity as a consultant at the International Commission of Jurists.

JGU's role in the litigation process has not been confined to the level of citation.

Jain has also spearheaded a series of legal awareness workshops for transgender activists that have served to provide crucial rights training for individuals at the forefront of social justice struggles.

Jain, along with other JGLS faculty members, had filed an impleading application in the Suresh Koushal case in the Supreme Court and were part of the litigation team challenging Section 377 of the IPC.

Sheikh has also been a part of the litigation team and has conceptualised the play "Contempt" based on the Suresh Koushal hearings.

"This judgment is infused with the promise of transformative potential. It is now up to us as activists, lawyers, academics and members of civil society to ensure that the letter of the law seeps into the daily fabric of our lives," Sheikh noted.