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CJI Thakur to decide on fresh plea challenging gay sex ban

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New Delhi: A two-judge Supreme Court bench on Wednesday declined to hear a fresh petition by high profile celebrities challenging criminalization of consensual gay and lesbian sex and the matter was referred to Chief Justice T.S. Thakur.

The petitioners have challenged the constitutional validity of Section 377 of IPC.

Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan said the petition by Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Navtej Singh Johar and celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia should be placed before the Chief Justice to decide if it can be heard along with a batch of curative petitions on the same issue pending before the court.

Besides Johar and Dalmia, other petitioners are Sunil Mehra, Aman Nath and Ayesha Kapur.

The curative petitions seeking to cure “gross miscarriage of justice” by top court in its December 12, 2013 judgment and rejection of the review petition on January 28, 2014 were referred to a five-judge constitution bench on February 2, 2016.

The top court by its December 12, 2013 verdict had upheld the validity of Section 377.

Referring the curative petitions to the constitution bench on February 2, the bench of Chief Justice Thakur, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar had said that since several constitutional issues were to be agitated in these petitions, the matter should be heard by the five-judge bench.

Senior counsel Arvind Datar told the court that the earlier petitions challenging the validity of Section 377 were filed by NGOs. But it was the first time that lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens had filed a writ seeking to quash the colonial era law that criminalises homosexuality.

Initially as the bench of Justice Bobde and Justice Bhushan said that they could hear the petition only after the verdict by a five-judge bench, Datar urged the court to order tagging of the petition by Johar and others with the curative petitions to be heard by the constitution bench.

Thereafter, the bench said that let the matter be placed before the Chief Justice Thakur.

Asserting that they were lesbian, gay and bisexual, the petitioners have contended that their rights to sexuality, sexual autonomy and choice of sexual partner were infringed by the Section 377 of IPC.

–IANS

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