LGBT Case: Supreme Court to Review Constitutional Validity of Section 377

5 Supreme Court Judges to Decide If Women Can Be Punished For Adultery

5 Supreme Court Judges to Decide If Women Can Be Punished For Adultery

"Congress welcomes Supreme Court's decision", All India Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev said soon after a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra referred a petition filed by five LGBT citizens seeking review of its 2013 order.

On Monday, a three-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra chose to re-examine the constitutional validity of Section 377 and said the matter would be referred to a larger bench.

Endorsing a rethink on the law, the CJI observed, "Societal morality changes from age to age". Before the law had taken effect, the judges did not find the plaintiffs had proved that the law had harmed them enough to have legal standing. "Morality that public perceives, constitution may not conceive of".

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The measure says religious people can't be sued or penalized by the government for declining to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies. In 2014, the Supreme Court refused to review the decision while hearing multiple pleas on the matter.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for Mr Johar, said that the penal provision was unconstitutional as it also provided prosecution and sentencing of consenting adults.

Of the five petitioners, Navtej Singh Johar is a renowned Bharatnatyam dancer and victor of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Sunil Mehra is a journalist, Ritu Dalmia is a restaurateur and Aman Nath is a hotelier and co-founder/chairman of the established Neemrana hotel chain.

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Section 377 reads, "Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal, shall be punished with (imprisonment for life), or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable for be fine".

A law in MS called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, enacted in April 2016, notes that the state cannot punish citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions who oppose same-sex marriage, homosexuality and transgender rights. "A section of people can't live in fear of their individual choice". "The court has to examine [the] constitutional validity in considering whether the prohibition imposed on two adults accounts for violation of their freedom at the same time legitimising may amount to encouraging immorality", party MP Majeed Memon said.

The Mississippi Center for Justice and Lambda Legal joined civil-rights attorney Rob McDuff of Jackson in filing the appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of 11 individuals, while the Joshua Generation Metropolitan Community Church and Campaign for Southern Equality appealed the law's constitutionality.

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Section 377 of IPC - which came into force in 1862 - defines unnatural offences. We are living in 21st century.

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