Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju who led the struggle for Decriminalising Homosexuality in the Indian Supreme Court, have been lauded as "pioneers" on the 16th Edition of Times 100 Most Influential People list, which was released on Wednesday, 17th April 2019.
The Times 100 Most Influential People is an annual list prepared by the Time Magazine that brings together the names of exceptional achievers under different titles like 'Pioneers', 'Artists', 'Leaders', 'Icons' and 'Titans.' It includes personalities of various backgrounds like government, business, entertainment, health, sports and science.
The list culminates into the Time 100 Summit where the exemplary contributions of all the 100 people are brought to the spotlight in the presence of TIME 100 honorees, CEOs, major philanthropists and civic leaders, as well as next-generation leaders selected by TIME.
Why were they awarded?
Advocates Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju spearheaded the historic decriminalisation of Section 377; the colonial era provision of the Indian Penal Code which decreed 'sexual activities "against the order of nature" illegal'; making sexual relations between the same sex illegal.
On September 6, 2018, a five-judge Supreme Court bench struck down provisions of Section 377 in the landmark verdict of Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India case. The struggle gained momentum as supporters of the LGBTQ+ community stood together in solidarity in marches and parades across the country.
Menaka Guruswamy is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court and Lecturer at Columbia Law School, New York. Arundhati Katju is an advocate at SC and holds an LLM from Columbia Law School.
Their profile penned by actress Priyanka Chopra extols their legal battle and commitment for championing the cause.
Excerpts of it read,
"Armed with a well-planned strategy that went beyond their well-researched legal arguments, Arundhati and Menaka became beacons of hope for the Indian LGBTQ+ community. Their perseverance and commitment led an entire community to a historic win by humanizing their struggles and giving them the freedom to love. As the Chief Justice said, "Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality"
Mukesh Ambani on the list too
Mukesh Ambani, the Indian business tycoon, also ranked as a 'titan' on the list. His profile written by Anand Mahindra commends the far-reaching connectivity of Reliance Jio and the myriad possibilities ahead for the company.
Other names on the Time 100 Most Influential people include Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, United States President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pope Francis, Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Oscar awardees Rami Malek and Mahershala Ali and Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj.