Indian Supreme Court on LGBT Isssue

A beginning has been made which gives hope to the LGBT community in India that they can get their place under the sun and no longer be ostracized – at least legally, but the wider social acceptance, as such things go, will have to be worked at by the by

India’s Supreme Court agrees to reconsider law criminalizing homosexuality


In December 2013 the Supreme Court of India upheld a colonial-era law making homosexuality a crime (punishable by up to 10 years in prison) by reversing a 2009 Delhi High Court order which had decriminalised homosexual acts, and which had come after years of campaigning by gay rights activists.

Under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, same-sex relationships are considered ‘an unnatural offence’. The law dates back to the 1860s, when Britain ruled over South Asia, and states that ‘whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal’ can be punished by up to 10 years in prison (italics added). The judgement dealt a blow to gay rights activists across the country.

However, following the 2013 ruling, the LGBT community has continued to canvas its case on the ground, amongst others, that love between two individuals even if they are of the same sex cannot be a crime, and that criminalising same-sex relationships will send the homosexual community underground and reverse the gains made in the struggle against the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

On Tuesday July 10th, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud of the Supreme Court of India said that a person’s choice of a partner is a fundamental right, and it can include same-sex partner.

According to Indian media, this observation came on the first day of hearing by a Constitution Bench of petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

Justice Chandrachud is part of the five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. He has observed that the Bench should first decide the constitutionality of Section 377 before it goes on to rule on questions like inheritance to live-in partners, whether they can marry, etc., adding that these are individual issues that cannot be pre-judged.

These and relate issues will need to be thrashed out, which will engage the Supreme Court and the Government, but at least a beginning has been made which gives hope to the LGBT community in India that they can get their place under the sun and no longer be ostracized – at least legally, but the wider social acceptance, as such things go, will have to be worked at by the by.

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“The 12 boys and their soccer coach lost an average of 2 kg during their ordeal but were generally in good condition and showed no signs of stress, according to a senior health official. However, they would have to stay in hospital for up to 10 days, followed by recuperation at home for 30 more days. How far the fate of the boys resonated across the world is indicated by the fact that a Google search on Tuesday last for the words ‘Thai cave rescue’ revealed 359 million results!”


A piece of good news came from Thailand…

… as the Thai boys who had been trapped in a cave with their coach waved and made a peace sign in the first photo from their hospital beds since their rescue on Tuesday last.

They were brought out of the Tham Luang cave, near the border with Myanmar, thus safely ending a dangerous rescue and evoking international relief and joy, for ever since the news of their disappearance and then regaining contact, the whole world has been as riveted on their fate as on the ongoing World Cup matches.

They were rescued from the 4-km long flooded cave after 17 days. Their rescue presented an almost insuperable challenge, and several countries and professional cave divers joined in their efforts to face it. And face it they did indeed, very determinedly and using all the latest equipment and paraphernalia at their disposal.

Their efforts were delayed and hampered by the monsoon rains which flooded the cave unexpectedly, and then threatened to derail the operation further. But the teams persevered and their patience and efforts finally paid off.

The boys had to be sedated and placed in special protective suits so that they would not panic because of claustrophobia, as some parts of the cave were very narrow in diameter, at one point being only about 15 inches!

The 12 boys and their soccer coach lost an average of 2 kg during their ordeal but were generally in good condition and showed no signs of stress, according to a senior health official. However, they would have to stay in hospital for up to 10 days, followed by recuperation at home for 30 more days.

Unfortunately, though, a former member of Thailand’s navy SEAL unit died during a mission in the cave on Friday last.

How far the fate of the boys resonated across the world is indicated by the fact that a Google search on Tuesday last for the words ‘Thai cave rescue’ revealed 359 million results!

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The Advisers Saga

On Tuesday last in the National Assembly there was a Parliamentary Question about advisers in the Prime Minister’s Office posed by the Honourable First Member for Beau Bassin and Petite Rivière, Mr Bhagwan. It was as follows:

 To ask the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development –

Whether, in regard to the Advisers and Senior Advisers attached to the Prime Minister’s Office as at to date, he will table a list thereof, indicating in each case, the (a) date and terms and conditions of appointment thereof (b) number of boards of which they are members, including parastatal bodies, Government-owned companies or private companies of which Government is a shareholder, and (c) remuneration drawn?’

The reply given was a classic one, in line with similar ones given by earlier regimes on the same issue.

‘Madam Speaker,

The information requested by the Honourable Member is being compiled and will be placed in the library of the National Assembly.

‘I wish to point out that the remuneration of Board of Directors of Government-Owned Companies and their subsidiaries is published in the annual reports of the companies and is, therefore, already in the public domain.’

It does not look as if we will ever have a rethink about the issue of advisers in our country. All governments in the world have advisers. Perhaps our peculiarity here is that we may have the largest number of them relative to the size of our country, and also we never get to know exactly what has been their collective contribution to the national weal during all these years. And one can rest assured that the answer to this will never be forthcoming…

 

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