A Constitution Bench will hear the matter pertaining to decriminalisation of homosexuality later this month (January).
This came on a petition that has been filed by several individuals seeking quashing of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Naz Foundation has also filed a curative petition challenging the court’s earlier judgment overturning the Delhi High Court’s reading down of the section.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud took the decision after hearing petitioners Navtej Singh Johar, Sunil Mehra and Ayesha Kapur.
Johar and Mehra have been in a relationship for over 20 years. Mehra cleared the civil services preliminary exam but chose not to pursue the Indian Administrative Service option as he was “apprehensive about his career prospects in state employment because of criminalisation of his sexual orientation”.
Kapur experienced fears of being persecuted due to her sexual orientation. She quit a lucrative corporate career rather than risk being outed, and could not bring herself to come out with the truth to her mother until she was in her mid-30s and her mother had become terminally ill. She still rues how she is “unable to accompany or be accompanied by her committed partner in social and family occasions”.
Senior counsel Arvind Datar argued on their behalf, raising the issue of infringement of privacy and other fundamental rights including life and liberty, and freedom of expression.
“What is natural to one may not be natural to another. We cannot allow citizens to cross the boundaries of law, but the boundaries of law can be amended for someone’s life under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the Bench observed.