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Keep Religion Out of Section 377 Debate, Centre Urges SC During Hearing on Gay Sex Law

Tushar Mehta reiterated that he has already clarified the stand of the Central government that the decision on Section 377 is to be left to the wisdom of the Bench. The Bench is likely to conclude its verdict on the issue on Tuesday next week.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:July 12, 2018, 3:40 PM IST
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Keep Religion Out of Section 377 Debate, Centre Urges SC During Hearing on Gay Sex Law
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18.com
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New Delhi: The Central government on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to not enter into matters of religious beliefs while deciding validity of Section 377 in the IPC, which makes homosexuality an offence irrespective of age and consent.

In his brief submission, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested the Constitution Bench to steer clear of the matters of religion.

He said that the Court should confine its discussion to the constitutionality and legality of Section 377 in so far as it criminalises gay sex between consenting adults in private a crime punishable up to life term.

Mehta handed over a book authored by Devdutt Pattanaik on queer tales that has references to certain religious personalities.

Mehta submitted that since the other side has also quoted from this book, he feels necessary to implore upon the Bench to not entertain arguments over religious personalities and belief.

The Bench heard Mehta and took note of his submissions.

Apart from this, Mehta reiterated that he has already clarified the stand of the Central government that the decision on Section 377 is to be left to the wisdom of the Bench.

Arguing earlier, senior lawyer Ashok Desai had referred to Pattanaik's book to make his point on sexual diversities.

Meanwhile, Suresh Kumar Koushal, the petitioner whose appeal had led to re-criminalisation of Section 377, also intervened in the matter and argued against striking down or diluting the penal provision.

Manoj George, lawyer appearing for two Christian associations, also resisted striking down Section 377, and alleged that the Central government has taken a U-turn.

While Mehta refuted this, the Bench also replied that irrespective of the "concession" offered by the Central government, validity of Section 377 will still have to be decided on the anvils of judicial pronouncements and constitutional norms. The Bench is likely to conclude its verdict on the issue on Tuesday next week.
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