The Supreme Court on Monday refused to implead the armed forces in the case on the contentious issue of decriminalisation of homosexual acts between two consenting adults in private.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly dismissed the plea by one Suresh Kumar Koushal, a city astrologer, who submitted that the defence forces should be made a party to the matter in view of the fact that they have always opposed decriminalisation of homosexual behaviour.
The petitioner submitted that it is imperative to hear the stand of the Defence Forces as the Army chief had openly expressed his opinion against homosexual behaviour and had said that such behaviour would not be allowed in the forces.
He contended the armed forces be impleaded in the case as their stand is contrary to the judgement of the Delhi High Court, which had legalised gay sex among consenting adults.
"The Army Chief in 2009 has stated that in the forces homosexuality is deemed indecent and unnatural behaviour and can lead to court martial," the petition said.
It said the Army chief had gone to the extent of saying that "no armed forces in the world has legalised homosexuality as in an institution like this it can have adverse consequences".
"Though the armed forces laws does not mention homosexuality but it is illegal under the Army Act and the Air Force Act which deal with disgraceful and indecent conduct," the petitioner said while pleading that Defence Forces be asked to file their response as their stand is contradictory to the Delhi High Court's verdict which had decriminalised gay sex.
The apex court, however, was not convinced and dismissed his application.
The court said it would allow all parties who have approached the court to present their case as the issue is important and fixed the matter for further hearing to April 19.
The Delhi High Court had on July 2, 2009, declared the penal provision, Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, as unconstitutional in case of gay sex among consenting adults in private. As per the Section 377 of the IPC, gay sex is a criminal offence punishable with up to life imprisonment.
Around 15 individuals and organisations from different fields have approached the apex court supporting or opposing the path-breaking verdict which had sparked off a controversy.
Several political, social and religious organisations have asked the Supreme Court to give the final verdict on the issue.
Senior BJP leader B P Singhal, who had opposed the high court's verdict legalising the consensual gay sex in private, has challenged the verdict in the apex court saying such acts are illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture.
Religious organisations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance have also opposed the High Court's verdict.
Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict in the high court.
The parties opposing the high court verdict contended that homosexual acts, by all standards, were "unnatural" and could not be permitted.
The apex court had declined to stay the verdict and had said "any interim order against the high court verdict, if necessary, will be considered only after hearing the parties concerned".