Supreme Court favours live-streaming of court proceedings

KK Venugopal

On 23 April, hotelier Keshav Suri joined the five celebrities to file another plea.

The Supreme Court Tuesday commenced a crucial hearing on a clutch of petitions seeking decriminalisation of consensual sex between two adults of the same gender. They constitute the essence of liberty and freedom. This court ignored the devastating effect the very possibility of prosecution has had on generations of Indians whose sexual orientation was criminalised and made the subject of threats, blackmail, ridicule and repression. "Equal protection demands protection of the identity of every individual without discrimination", the nine-judge bench had said.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud refused to adjourn the matter when the Centre sought time to file its response to the petitions.

The top court was asked to re-examine the issue after it set aside a Delhi High Court verdict of 2009 that held Section 377 as "unconstitutional".

The top court relied on the privacy judgment that observed "sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy" to reaffirm its positive attitude towards the LGBTQ community.

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The law known as Section 377 - introduced more than a century ago under British rule - bans all sexual activity outside heterosexual sex as "against the order of nature". Social morality also changes from age to age. The Centre told the court that live-streaming can be undertaken.

According to reports, Jaising said that citizens have the right to information on matters of constitutional and national importance.

LGBT+ activists are hopeful that the supreme court will decriminalise gay sex following the hearing.

The petition was filed by senior advocate, Indira Jaisingh. The other plea in this case is the batch of appeals filed by the six noted personalities. "There is no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be altered by any treatment and that such attempts may, in fact, lead to low self-esteem and stigmatisation of the person", read the statement. "This Hon'ble Court has upheld the right to choice of conjugal partner under Article 21 of the Constitution of India", the first plea, filed by the five personalities, read. The bench can now consign to history an archaic and repressive piece of legislation that criminalises "unnatural" sex and denies a minority community fundamental human rights.

"Right to choose my partner is part of my fundamental right to privacy", Datar had submitted.

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