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SC Seeks Centre’s Reply On Plea By Bizman Keshav Suri Seeking Scrapping Of Sec 377 IPC

The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre on a plea filed by Keshav Suri,top businessman and Executive Director of Lalit Hotels, seeking to quash Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said the petition shall be tagged with a similar joint plea filed by five celebrities which has been placed before a Constitution bench.

“Let a copy of this petition be served on the ASG and the Centre shall file a response within one week”, the bench said.

Suri was represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi while ASG Tushar Mehta appeared for Centre.

Suri who himself is part of the LGBTQ community said that he constantly lives under the threat of a false prosecution, and is, therefore, unable to live a life of dignity whereby he can exercise his choice to have sexual relations with his partner whom he has been with for a decade now.

 Suri’spetition is the latest to add to a list of PILs filed in the Supreme Court against Section 377.

While the curative plea filed by Naz Foundation was already pending, Businesswoman Ayesha Kapur, Bharatnatyam dancer and recipient of 2014 Sangeet Natak Akademi award Navtej Singh Johar, well-known journalist Sunil Mehra, noted chef, author, restaurateur and TV personality Ritu Dalmia, and hotelier, writer and historian Aman Nath in last year january filed a joint petition which has been placed before a constitution bench for hearing. “Despite our achievements and contributions to India in various fields, we are being denied the right to sexuality, the most basic and inherent of fundamental rights,” they had told the SC.

On the other hand Suri’s petition claimed: “Owing to Section 377 of the IPC continuing on the statute book, various adult and consenting members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and Queer) community continue to face the threat of a false prosecution and some are actually facing it,”

Suri urged the apex court to pass an order restraining the respondent (Union of India) from taking coercive action against initiatives that promote equal opportunities for people with alternative sexual orientation pending for final hearing and disposal of the present writ petition.

The petitioner also stated that members of the LGBT community are ridiculed in various spheres of life, and equal work opportunities and pay are not given to them.Suri filed the writ petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, seeking a direction to declare that the right to choice of sexual orientation is a fundamental right enshrined in part – III of the Constitution of India.

Earlier in 2009, the Delhi High Court had decriminalised Section 377, but the order was later set aside by a Supreme-Court bench.

Categorised as an unnatural offence, consensual sexual intercourse between persons of same sex is termed ‘against the order of nature’ under Section 377 of the IPC, and can be punishable by life imprisonment.

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