It is the Supreme Court's (SC’s) prerogative to test the constitutionality of the law and its verdict holding homosexuality as an offence must be "respected by the government", Union law minister Kapil Sibal said on Wednesday.
“It is the prerogative of the Supreme Court... to test the constitutionality of a law. They are exercising their prerogative. We have the prerogative to make laws. We shall exercise our prerogative," Sibal said, replying to questions on the apex court setting aside a Delhi high court verdict decriminalising gay sex.
Asked when will the government bring the matter in Parliament, Sibal said, “Well, if Parliament runs, we shall take it up.”
By reinstating ban on homosexuality after the Delhi HC in 2009 decriminalised it, the apex court has put the ball in government’s court to take the legislative route to deal with the issue.
Sibal’s cabinet colleague, information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari, said the government would definitely take into cognisance the SC verdict.
“As far as the government is concerned, if I recall correctly, in 2009 or 2010 when M Veerappa Moily was the law minister, he had said that Section 377 of IPC should be decriminalised. But since a decision has come, the government will take cognisance of it and let you know,” he said.
External affairs minister Salman Khurshid said, "I would imagine the SC has taken into account the overall conditions prevailing in our country, and if required the legislature could do something which is reflective of the what the people want and within the four corners of the Constitution."
However, Janata Dal United (JD-U) leader Shivanand Tiwari did not seem to be in sync with Sibal and Tewari.
“I don't support the Supreme Court decision. I think the Delhi high court order was practical and constitutional," the JD-U leader said, adding the apex court should “review” its “regressive” order.
Trinamool Congress parliamentarian Derek O'Brien termed the judgment “disappointing”.
CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury said, “It is now a legal matter... Since the judiciary has sought the executive’s involvement, the executive has to properly study what the judgment is all about.”
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said the judgment was a “retrograde step”. “We are a modern, democratic and liberal society which allows choice to an individual and suddenly the choice has become illegal.”
Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar said the verdict required “serious thought” because there must be equality for all human beings and “these kinds of preferences are almost built into your genes”.
But, Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal supported the verdict, saying, “Indian society is not prepared for it (homosexuality)...this does not suit the Indian culture.”
With inputs from Agencies