On July 10, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court began hearing a batch of petitions regarding Section 377. The bench was led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra with the others being Justices Rohinton F. Nariman, Indu Malhotra, A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.
Today, the Supreme Court, in its wisdom decided to scrap Section 377. Does this mean that the fight for equal rights is over? No, but on this historic day, celebrations are due because LGBTQ+ folks across the country can now love and express it physically without it being termed as a crime.
The archaic law was a colonial remnant – a draconian device that prevented members of the LGBTQ community from living fully because it criminalised ‘sex against the order of nature’. While the hearing itself gave a sense of hope to the community and its allies, one of the biggest obstacles were removed when the government chose to remain neutral and left the decision to scrap Section 377 on the Supreme Court.
The Hindu reports that Justice Chandrachud had orally observed that a person’s choice of a partner is a fundamental right to life, and a ‘partner’ includes a same-sex partner.
Today’s historic judgement would not have been possible without the relentless activism of members of the community and the allies who left no stone unturned in their campaign against this indefensible law.
Following the Right To Privacy judgement, Justice AP Shah, the OG who struck down 377 of the IPC in 2009 when he was Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court had this to say to The Indian Express: “I personally feel that there is a strong possibility that the Constitution bench examining the curative petition is bound to go by what the Supreme Court said in course of its judgment on Thursday. There is very little scope now for those wanting to support Section 377. The only argument that can be advanced by them is that of reasonable restriction [on the fundamental rights]. But invading the bedroom can’t be considered reasonable restriction.”
You were right, Mr Shah.
To all the members of the community – congratulations, so where’s the party at?