The Supreme Court has referred Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to a larger bench on Monday. This decision comes after 5 petitioners from the LGBT community filed a petition against the law stating that they live under constant fear of police, as reported to The Indian Express.
The apex court stated that an individual must have control over the choices they make, despite their sexual orientation. The court also observed that, “A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear.”
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who appeared on behalf of the petitioners stated the importance of Article 21 for an individual. He further added that the petition may be referred immediately because the specific section directly impacts the life and fundamental rights of his clients. Datar reiterated that the, “Right to choose my partner is part of my fundamental right to privacy,” according to The Hindu.
With the Supreme Court passing the Right to Privacy Judgement in August this year, there is still a hope for the section to be quashed in near future. Also because the bench stated in its judgment said that, “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.”
The colonial era legislation criminalizes sexual relationship between members of LGBT community since the relationship according to the law is ‘unnatural.’ With a new hearing, the earlier petition between Naz Foundation and Suresh Kumar Kaushal filed in 2014 will be revisited before a bench.