New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on 2 February hold an open court hearing to reconsider its 2013 judgment criminalizing homosexuality.
On 11 December 2013, the court overturned a Delhi high court verdict that had set aside a 1860 law that criminalized consensual sex among homosexual adults.
The court will hear a curative petition filed by Naz Foundation Trust, the non-governmental organization (NGO) that filed a lawsuit in the Delhi high court in 2001.
In 2009, the high court had ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" was unconstitutional.
Although the government did not contest the high court verdict, a challenge on the grounds of public morality was filed by groups of religious bodies and individuals, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the Apostolic Churches Alliance and the Utkal Christian Council.
The apex court, in its judgment, had said that only a minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitutes lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
“In last more than 150 years, less than 200 persons have been prosecuted for committing offence under Section 377," justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhyaya had said in their ruling.
Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee, the government’s law officer at that time, had said that the judgement was no bar for the government to bring about a new law to protect homosexuals.
However, attempts in that direction have yielded no results so far. In December 2015, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member’s bill in the Lok Sabha seeking to amend the law. The bill was rejected without a debate.