Section 377: Centre to file response in SC today
New Delhi [India], July 10 : Soon after a Constitution Bench of Supreme Court began hearing the pleas seeking scrapping of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises homosexuality, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Central Government, told the court that the government will file its response in the case later today. "I am in the process of discussing the issue, section 377 is a question of law," Mehta said on Tuesday. On the other hand, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the petitioners, argued that the issue deals only with sexual orientation and that it has nothing to deal with gender. He said, "Section 377 violates one's human rights. The issue deal only with sexual orientation and it has nothing to do with gender." Rohatgi said that this is the case of constitutional morality versus others and has a large ramification. "This is a case of constitutional morality vs others. This case has a large ramification," he said. The former Attorney General emphasised that the issue of gender and sexual orientation are two different things and it should not be mixed up. He said," Issue of gender and sexual orientation are two different things. These two issues should not be mixed up. This is not a question of choice." Rohatgi also said, "As society changes, values changes, we can say, what is moral 160 years ago might not be moral today." In May, the apex court had decided to hear the plea filed by Indian Institute of Technology's LGBT alumni association seeking scrapping of Section 377 of IPC. On April 27 this year, Ashok Rao Kavi of Humsafar Trust and Arif Jaffar had also filed petitions against Section 377. Their plea came just six days after hotelier Keshav Suri, filed a plea in this regard in the top court. In response to Suri's plea, the apex court on April 23 sought the Centre's reply on the plea seeking scrapping of Section 377. On a related note, the business tycoon last month tied the knots with his partner Cyril Feuillebois in Paris. Earlier in 2009, the Delhi High Court had decriminalised Section 377, but the order was later set aside by a Supreme-Court bench. Categorised as an unnatural offence, consensual sexual intercourse between persons of same-sex is termed 'against the order of nature' under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and can be punishable by life imprisonment.
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