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Agency reports on the Secion 377 case hearing in Delhi HC (22 May) May 24, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Section 377.
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From PTI: Decriminalisation of homosexual acts: HC seeks help from AG

New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today sought assistance from the Attorney General in a case related to decriminalisation of homosexual acts among consenting adults.
As an important question of law is involved in the case, we would like the assistance of Attorney General which could be represented by a law officer, a Bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and J R Midha said.

Section 377 of Indian Penal Code provides a punishment of up to life imprisonment for indulging in homosexual acts.

The Bench’s move to seek A-G’s help come in the backdrop of contradictory stands taken by two different ministries.

Justice Sikri and Justice Midha said there was nothing wrong in the contradictory stand taken by two different ministries — Ministry of Home Affairs and Health ministry — on enforcement of Section 377 as the matter would be ultimately decided by the court.

“It is not a dispute between the two ministries, it is merely a matter of contradictory stand taken by them. Would it solve the problem if one ministry concedes to the opinion of the other…The Court would still have to decide the issue,” the Bench said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by NGO Naz Foundation seeking its direction to declare Section 377 of IPC as “unconstitutional” as it violated a citizen’s fundamental right and promoted illegal sex.

“Section 377 demeans a gay man. It silences a gay man into accepting the discrimination against him. He will not come out to declare his orientation”, the NGO contended.

“It can be criticised on the basis of moral ground but it is illegal to make homosexual acts between consenting adults an offence,” advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the NGO contended. PTI

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The Delhi High Court today asked Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra to appear before it on June 2 over a law which makes homosexuality illegal in the country and can penalise a person.

A division bench of Justices A K Sikri and J R Midha asked the Government counsel to make clear its stand on June 2.

The affidavit filed by NACO, a division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was against enforcement of Section 377 of the IPC entailing punishment up to life imprisonment for indulging in unnatural sex.

However, the government is divided on the issue. The Home Ministry has told the court that by treating homosexuality as a criminal offence, the government is protecting public health and morals.

But, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) says that the law has to go for sake of battle against AIDS.

The Indian Penal Code, as we know it today, was formulated by the British way back in 1860. It was then that Section 377 was also introduced. Ironically, the UK government repealed this law in 1967.

The content in the affidavit made the court to remark that homosexuality was not a health hazard. The judges said, “But it seems to be affecting the Home Ministry. So, how come the government is taking such a contradictory stand? If they cannot decide, then we will”.

UNI

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