Some high-profile celebrities, who claim to be part of the LGBT community, have approached the Supreme Court seeking quashing of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises homosexuality in the country.
The celebrities, including chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and dancer NS Johar, have sought protection of their sexual rights on the ground that it is an integral part of the fundamental right to life.
The plea is likely to come up for consideration today when the court reopens after summer break.
The gay celebrities, in their plea, said their lives have been “inexorably constricted and their rights infringed” by the penal provision.
“Despite their achievements and contributions to India in various fields, they are being denied the right to sexuality, the most basic and inherent of fundamental rights. Section 377 renders them criminals in their own country,” the plea said.
Earlier, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur had agreed to hear in an open court the curative plea of NGO ‘Naz Foundation’ and some gay rights activists.
On February 2, the court referred the curative plea to a five-judge Constitution Bench for re-examination of the 2-year old verdict by which a colonial law, criminalising consensual sexual acts between the same sex under section 377 of Indian Penal Code, was restored.
The curative plea was filed against the dismissal of their petition seeking a review of the 2013 judgement of the apex court upholding the validity of section 377 (unnatural sexual offences) of Indian Penal Code.
Now, the gay celebrities have filed a fresh writ petition to quash the penal provision.
Naz Foundation had filed a petition in December 2001 in the Delhi high court, which had on July 2, 2009, decriminalised Section 377. After refusing twice to entertain pleas against Section 377, the Supreme Court had on February 2 referred the issue to a five-judge bench.
The top court had earlier dismissed a batch of review petitions filed by the Centre and gay rights activists against its December 2013 verdict declaring gay sex an offence punishable up to life imprisonment.
The court had said it did not see any reason to interfere with the December 11, 2013 verdict. It had also rejected the plea for oral hearing on the review petitions which are normally decided by judges in chamber without giving an opportunity to parties to present their views.
It had revived the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment.
While setting aside the July 2, 2009 verdict of Delhi High Court, the apex court had held that Section 377 of Indian Penal Code does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and that the declaration made by the high court was legally unsustainable.