The Supreme Court today, August 24, ruled that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right recognised in Article 21 and Part III of the Indian Constitution.
This is a landmark verdict because in the coming few weeks it will decide on the validity of Aadhaar.
However, in its 547-page judgement, the Court has made an array of observations that will pave the way for a newer and more progressive Indian democracy; one of the most important being decriminalising section 377.
What is section 377?
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code deals with ‘unnatural offences’.
It says, “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.”
It basically criminalises sodomy (anal sex), homosexual intercourse and bestiality (sex with animals).
What is the problem with section 377?
Section 377 violates individual rights which are enshrined upon us by our Constitution.
The Delhi High Court in 2009 had decriminalized homosexual sex as it found Section 377 of the IPC and other legal prohibitions against private, adult, consensual, and non-commercial same-sex conduct to be in direct violation of right to life (which now includes privacy) provided by the Indian Constitution.
However, the decision came under a lot of flak and was subsequently quashed by the Supreme Court in 2013.
How will the apex court’s recent privacy judgement pave the way for decriminalising section 377?
In its judgement, the Supreme Court observed, “The family, marriage, procreation and sexual orientation are all integral to the dignity of the individual.”
It further said, “It is an individual’s choice as to who enters his house, how he lives and in what relationship.”
The Logical Indian community welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court as privacy is not secrecy but our birth right. The verdict will not only pave the way for decriminalising Section 377 but also lead a further discourse on Aadhaar, internet shutdowns, cattle slaughter ban, etc.