If Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss tasted success in the Supreme Court that upheld his decision to impose a ban on smoking in public places, his own government snubbed him in the Delhi High Court for supporting legalisation of homosexuality.
“Ignore what the minister says. It is also not important what the affidavits say. It is for the court to decide the issue,” Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra said before a bench of Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice S Muralidhar.
The court is hearing a petition filed by NGO Naz Foundation seeking decriminalisation of homosexuality.
The Bench said: “We will not give a particular interpretation based on what one particular party or an affidavit has to say. Our judgment will not be based on that”.
Malhotra said: “Even the judges cannot make a law, they can only interpret it. Law making is the job of Parliament and that is ultimately the will of the people…. Section 377 cannot be tampered with.”
The court asked the centre to substantiate its claims that criminalisation of homosexuality helps spread of HIV. It said the affidavit filed by the Health Ministry through National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) countering this argument as “relevant”.
As per a 2006 statistics, eight per cent of the 25 lakh homosexuals in India are infected by HIV, while its prevalence among general population is less than one per cent.
NACO said the hidden nature of homosexual groups fearing law enforcement agencies makes it difficult to access them. “If criminalisation is an hindrance in providing right to health, it is a factor to be considered,” said Justice Shah.