NEW DELHI, December 16, 2013 ( – On the heels of last week's Indian Supreme Court decision that upheld the country's laws against any form of “unnatural sex,” which has been interpreted as including sodomy, bestiality, rape and sexual abuse of children, the government is reportedly considering working to repeal the law. 

The Supreme Court had ruled that while the law does not violate the country’s Constitution, the legislature still maintained the authority “to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 IPC from the statute book.”

Section 377 of the penal code reads: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with 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.'' 

Homosexual advocacy groups have challenged the law as a violation of their rights. Now some Indian media reports are saying that the ruling Congress Party may take a pre-emptive approach and negate the court’s decision through an “ordinance,” a shortcut to quickly pass legislation without parliamentary discussion. 

“It is the prerogative of the Supreme Court under the Constitution to test the constitutionality of a law. They are exercising their prerogative. We have the prerogative to make laws. We shall exercise our prerogative,” federal law minister Kapil Sibal said according to FirstPost India

“We need to take quick and firm action,” Sibal was quoted as saying. 

Congress President Sonia Gandhi said she hopes that “Parliament will address the issue and uphold the constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens of India, including those directly affected by the judgment,” according to Zeenews India

However, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said such a move would face opposition from many political parties and religious groups, and that legislation on the matter is unlikely to pass any time soon as there is no political consensus on the issue. The current session of Parliament ends on December 20. 

“The legislation will take time as there is no consensus,” Shinde told reporters last week. On Saturday, December 14 he also told the media that the government had no plans to issue an ordinance to quash the Supreme Court ruling.

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“Not now. Our Vice-President and President have already spoken on the issue. I am with them,” Shinde said. 

Pro-family activist Sunsun C. Jose told LifeSiteNews that opinion on the ground in India is that the government is undecided on the next course of action, but that a quick reversal of the Supreme Court's ruling is unlikely.

“They might go for a review petition or curative petition to the Supreme Court which I am unsure how long it may take, as I am assuming that the government will have to work on the judgment to show what was incorrect,” Mr. Jose said. “I am no lawyer, but the judgment seems to be solidly written.” 

Mr. Jose added that actual legislation by Parliament to change or repeal Section 377 is also unlikely given the lack of political unity on the issue, opposition to changing the law from a socially conservative population, and that “any further legislative action will happen only after the general elections which are many months apart.” 

A summary of the Indian Supreme Court judgment dealing with the constitutionality of Section 377 of the IPC is available here.

Contact information: 

Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India
The President's Secretariat
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi,110 004.
Phone: 011-23015321
Fax : 011-23017290, 011-23017824

Shri Mohd. Hamid Ansari, Vice-President of India
Vice-President House,
6, Maulana Azad Road
New Delhi – 110011
Phone: 011-23016422, 011-23016344
Email: [email protected]


Related story: 

India Supreme Court upholds law against sodomy


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