The Supreme Court on Monday refused to adjourn the hearing of a batch of petitions challenging its verdict against homosexual activity in 2013, PTI reported.
A five-judge Constitution bench is scheduled to begin hearing the pleas on Tuesday. The Centre had requested the court to adjourn the hearing as it said it needed more time to file its response in the matter.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra reconstituted the Constitution bench last week to hear petitions on four matters, including Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises “sex against the order of nature” even between consenting adults. The bench comprises Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
In May, a three-judge bench had issued a notice to the Centre seeking its reply on a petition filed by a group of 20 students and alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology, challenging the criminalisation of gay sex. The bench ordered that the plea be tagged with other similar petitions that the court had referred to a five-judge Constitution bench in January.
The colonial-era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises anal and oral sex, referring to it as “unnatural sex, against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”. It prescribes a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. In 2009, the Delhi High Court read down Section 377 to decriminalise sexual activity between members of the same sex. However, in 2013, the Supreme Court set aside that order.
In January, the top court said it would revisit the constitutional validity of the section and referred it to a Constitution bench.