Centre asks Supreme Court to decide on Sec 377

Jul 12, 2018, 09:07 IST | Agencies

In an affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs says if the apex court decides to examine any question other than the constitutional validity of Sec 377, it would have wide ramifications under other laws

Centre asks Supreme Court to decide on Sec 377
In this photo taken on June 24, 2018, a supporter of the LGBTQ community takes part in a pride parade in Chennai. File Pic/AFP

The Centre on Wednesday left it to the wisdom of the Supreme Court to examine the constitutional validity of the penal provision, which criminalises "consensual acts of adults in private", saying this was the only question under Section 377 of the IPC, which needed to be decided by the constitution bench.

In an affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs said if the apex court decided to examine any question other than the constitutional validity of Section 377, it would have far-reaching and wide ramifications under other laws. Section 377 refers to 'unnatural offences' and says 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 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

"So far as the constitutional validity of Section 377 is concerned, the Union of India would leave the said question to the wisdom of this court," the affidavit said. "If this court is pleased to decide to examine any other question other than the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the IPC, or to construe any other right in favour of or in respect of LGBTQ, the Union of India would like to file its detailed affidavit in reply," it said.

It also said that consideration of any other issue "would have far-reaching and wide ramifications under various other laws and also will have consequences which are neither contemplated in the reference, nor required to be answered by this bench."

'Section 377 is unconstitutional'
As the constitution bench of SC continues to hear the pleas seeking scrapping of Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises homosexuality, lawyer for one of the petitioners Menaka Guruswamy on Wednesday said the section is 'arbitrary' and 'unconstitutional'.

What the bench says
* If the right to choose a sex partner was recognised as a fundamental right, then somebody may say that he or she wanted to marry a sibling, which would be contrary to the laws governing marriages
* We do not want a situation where two homosexuals enjoying a walk on Marine Drive should be disturbed by cops and charged under Sec 377.

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