Supreme Court refers plea against Section 377 to a five-judge bench

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The Supreme Court on 2 February referred to the curative petition against Section 377 which criminalises homosexuality to a five-judge bench.

Chief Justice TS Thakur, who headed a bench, took the decision, It was welcomed by gay rights activists across the country as it reopens the legal debate on homosexuality.

The Supreme Court clubbed together eight curative petitions filed by gay rights activists and non government organisation, Naz Foundation against the SC’s December 11, 2013 judgement upholding the legality of Section 377 (unnatural sexual offences) and the January 2014 order, by which it had dismissed a clutch of review petitions.

The petitioners, including the NGO, has been battling on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, said there was an error in the judgement delivered on December 11, 2013 as it was based on an archaic law.

They had said criminalising gay sex amounted to violating the LGBT community’s fundamental rights.

“The judgement was reserved on March 27, 2012, but the verdict was delivered after 21 months. During this period, many amendments in laws had taken place which were not considered by the bench,” stated the plea.