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Center files affidavit, leaves Section-377 on Supreme Court’s wisdom

Hearing on the constitutionality of homosexuality continues

NEW DELHI:

The Government of India, instead of pitching in with its views on Section-377 if Indian Penal Code, which is being contested before the Constitution Bench of Supreme Court, has found it easier to go by the decision of the court.

It filed an affidavit on Wednesday during the hearing of the case and put the onus of deciding the fate of Section 377 on the Supreme Court (SC). The SC, on its part, gave a strong indication it plans to go ahead and scrap the Section that criminalizes homosexuality.

Once it decriminalizes Section 377, “discrimination faced by the LGBT community in employment and in choice of vocation will vanish,” said the apex court. Further, ‘this will help awakening the society and ensure that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community becomes able to live life to the fullest.’

Earlier Wednesday, in the affidavit the Centre submitted to the SC, it spoke of the “wisdom of the court” in deciding on Section 377. “Let court decide, leave decision to wisdom of court,” said the Centre in the affidavit it submitted to the SC via additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who’s appearing for the Centre.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI)-led five-judge bench then said it intends to rule – subject to arguments – that two consenting adults even if engaged in ‘unnatural sex’ will not be liable for prosecution for any offence. What’s more, after decriminalization of Section 377, the LGBT community members can freely also contest elections without inhibitions, said the SC.

However, the Centre on Tuesday made clear that the court should decide only whether Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) needed to be decriminalised and no other issue. “The SC should not rule on any other issue as it could have far reaching consequences for future,” said Mehta.

In May, the apex court decided to hear the plea filed by Indian Institute of Technology’s LGBT alumni association seeking scrapping of Section 377 of the IPC. Earlier, on April 27, Ashok Rao Kavi of Humsafar Trust and Arif Jaffar also filed petitions against Section 377.

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