New five-judge constitution bench to hear challenge to Section 377 of IPC
A newly re-constituted five-judge constitution bench will begin hearing of four crucial matters, including the much-contested case challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code from July 10, 2018.
Following are the four cases that have been listed for hearing before the bench:
- Constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality
- Validity of the ban on entry of women between the age of 15 and 50 in the sanctum sanctorum of Sabrimala Temple
- Validity of the Adultery Law under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which seeks to punish only men for adultery and treats women involved in the crime as victims.
- Whether a legislator can be disqualified on account of a charge sheet filed against him/her or should it be done only upon conviction?
The new five-judge bench will be headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and would comprise Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The first case listed for hearing includes the challenge to Section 377 of Indian Penal Code or the issue of sexual relations between persons of same sex.
What is Section 377?
The Section refers to ‘unnatural offences’ and stated that 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 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.
The petitioners contend that the continued existence of section 377 severely curtails the protection of equality, dignity, liberty and expression that the Constitution guarantees to all Indian citizen.