The Supreme Court today refused to adjourn tomorrow’s proposed hearing by a five-judge Constitution bench on a batch of petitions challenging its verdict that had re-criminalised consensual carnal sex between two adults.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra refused to defer the hearing after the Centre sought more time to file its response on public interest litigation on gay sex. “It will not be adjourned,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khawilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
The newly re-constituted five-judge constitution bench is scheduled to commence hearing from tomorrow of four crucial matters, including the issue of sexual relations between persons of same sex.
The Supreme Court had in 2013 restored sexual relationship between persons of the same sex as a criminal offence.
After the apex court had set aside the Delhi High Court’s 2009 judgement de-criminalising sex between consenting adults of the same sex by holding as “illegal” the Section 377 of IPC, review petitions were filed, and on their dismissal curative petitions were filed by the affected parties for a re-examination of the original verdict.
During the pendency of the curative petitions, the plea was made that an open court hearing should be granted and after the apex court agreed to it, several fresh writ petitions were filed seeking to decriminalise of Section 377.
Section 377 refers to ‘unnatural offences’ and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.
The new five-judge bench will be headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and would comprise justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.