SC To Take A Call On Section 377 That Criminalises Same-Sex Acts; Not On Inheritance And Civil Rights


New Delhi: The five-judge bench under Chief Justice of India DipakMisra, hearing a batch of petitions challenging the British-era provision, said it will not decide on questions such as inheritance and the civil rights of people in same-sex relationships. The Court will only decide on the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises same-sex acts, even as confusion prevailed over the government’s stance on the issue.

“The question here is whether section 377 is ultra vires or not. Let us get out of this maze. We cannot now give an advance ruling on questions like inheritance to (same sex) live-in partners, whether they can marry, etc. Those are individual issues we cannot pre-judge now,” Misra said.

Government officials from the law and home ministries declined to comment on the matter while members of the ruling BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) remained tight-lipped about whether the Centre will back the provision that is used against members of India’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Late in the evening, attorney general KK Venugopal told news agency ANI that he had been told the government had a “different stand”. “I had appeared for the curative. I’m told the government’s stand is different therefore I’m not appearing in that case at all. I can’t appear because the government of India has a different stand.” However, he later said that he did not have clarity on what the government’s stand was.

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