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Is homosexuality illegal? SC to HC

An NGO wants quashing of Section 377 of the IPC to make homosexuals aware of the ill effects of AIDS.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 23:16 IST

The Supreme Court has asked the Delhi High Court to "dispose on merits" a petition that seeks the legalisation of homosexuality and the scrapping of a provision in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that makes unnatural sex a crime.

A four-member bench comprising Chief Justice YK Sabharwal and judges CK Thakker, RV Raveendran and Lokeshwar Singh Panta asked the High Court to decide the issue after Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam said that the issue required consideration on merits.

The petition was filed by NGO Naz Foundation, which works to create awareness about HIV/AIDS. It had filed the petition in 2001 to seek the quashing of Section 377 of the IPC, saying that this was important for making homosexuals aware of the ill effects of AIDS.

This provision of the IPC prohibits unnatural sex between two persons and makes it an offence punishable with imprisonment and a fine or both.

Indira Jaising, senior counsel for Naz Foundation, said that the High Court had dismissed the petition only on the grounds that there was no cause of action.

Jaising wanted the matter to be decided on merits, considering the fact that the issue was being debated the world over. The bench set aside the High Court order and remitted the petition for fresh disposal.

The Naz Foundation contended that this provision was obstructing AIDS/HIV prevention efforts among high-risk groups.

The High Court had rejected the petition at the preliminary stage itself, holding that an academic challenge to the constitutionality of a legislative provision could not be entertained.

It also said that when no personal injury was caused to the petitioner by this provision, the petition could not be examined.

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 23:06 IST