The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalised homosexuality. In a historic verdict a five-judge constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra ruled that Section 377 of IPC was weapon to harass members of LGBT community, resulting in discrimination.
WHAT IS SECTION 377
Section 377 of the IPC states: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” This archaic British law dates back to 1861 and criminalises sexual activities against the order of nature and the ambit of this law extends to any sexual union involving penile insertion.
SECTION 377: A TIMELINE OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR IN COURT
2001: Naz Foundation, an NGO fighting for gay rights, files PIL in Delhi High Court seeking legalisation of gay sex among consenting adults.
September 2004: The high court dismisses the PIL seeking de- criminalisation of gay sex; Gay right activists file review petition.
November 3: Delhi High Court ismisses the review plea.
December: Gay rights activists approach Supreme Court against high court order.
April 3, 2006: Supreme Court remands the case back to high court, directs it to reconsider the matter on merit.
October 4: HC allows senior BJP leader B P Singhal's plea, opposing decriminalising gay sex, to be impleaded in the case.
September 18, 2008: Centre seeks more time to take stand on the issue after contradictory stand between Home and Health Ministries over decriminalisation of homosexuality. HC refuses the plea and final argument in the case begins.
September 25: Gay rights activists contend that the government cannot infringe upon their fundamental right to equality by decriminalising homosexual acts on the ground of morality.
September 26: HC pulls up Centre for speaking in two voices on homosexuality law in view of contradictory affidavits filed by Health and Home Ministries.
September 26: Centre says gay sex is immoral and a reflection of a perverse mind and its decriminalisation would lead to moral degradation of society.
October 15: HC pulls up Centre for relying on religious texts to justify ban on gay sex and asks it to come up with scientific reports to justify it.
November: Govt in its written submission before HC says judiciary should refrain from interfering in the issue as it is basically for Parliament to decide.
Novermber 7, 2008: HC reserves verdict on pleas filed by gay rights activists seeking decriminalisation of homosexual acts.
July 2, 2009: HC allows plea of gay rights activists and legalises sexual activity among consenting adults of same sex.
July 9: Delhi astrologer challenges Delhi High Court verdict in Supreme Court.
Later, several others including BJP leader Singhal (since dead), religious organisations, rights activists and yoga guru Ramdev's disciple also oppose the judgement.
February 15, 2012: Supreme Court begins final day-to-day hearing in the case.
March 27, 2012: Supreme Court reserves verdict.
December 11, 2013: Supreme Court sets aside the 2009 Delhi High court order which had decriminalised gay sex.
December 20: Centre files review petition in Supreme Court seeking re-examination of its verdict.
December 24: Gay rights activists file review petition in Supreme Court seeking re-examination of its verdict.
January 28, 2014: Supreme Court refuses to review its verdict on criminalising gay sex, dismisses pleas of Centre, activists.
April 3: Supreme Court agrees to consider for an open court hearing on curative petitions filed by gay rights activists against its verdict criminalising homosexuality.
February 2, 2016: Supreme court refers curative pleas on homosexuality to five-judge bench.
June 29, 2016: Supreme Court refers the plea of celebrities like dancer N S Johar, chef Ritu Dalmia and hotelier Aman Nath, for quashing of section 377 of the IPC, to a bench already seized of the matter.
August 24, 2017: Supreme Court declares right to privacy a fundamental right under the Constitution, also observes that "sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy".
January 8, 2018: Supreme Court agrees to reconsider its 2013 decision and refers to a larger bench the plea challenging 377 of the IPC, saying that the societal morality "changes from age to age".
July 17, 2018: Supreme Court reserves its order in the case.
September 6, 2018: Supreme Court strikes down Section 377 of IPC. Homosexuality is not a crime, rules Supreme Court.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)