New Delhi: After a marathon hearing spanning over a month, the Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a bunch of petitions challenging the Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising gay sex among consenting adults in private.
A bench of justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya reserved its verdict on a bunch of petitions by anti-gay right activists, social and religious organisations against the 2009 verdict of the high court, which decriminalised the gay sex.
The bench had commenced final day-to-day hearing of the case from February 15.
During the hearing, the apex court had pulled up the Centre for its "casual" approach on decriminalisation of homosexuality and had also expressed concern over the Parliament not discussing such important issues and blaming judiciary instead for its "over-reach".
While pleading for decriminalisation of gay sex, the Centre had subsequently told the court that the anti-gay law in the country had resulted from the British colonialism and the Indian society was much more tolerant towards homosexuality.
The Delhi High Court had in 2009 decriminalised gay sex as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and had ruled that sex between two consenting adults in private would not be an offence.
Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex a criminal offence entailing punishment up to life term.
Senior BJP leader B P Singhal has challenged the high court verdict in the Supreme Court saying such acts are illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture.
Religious organisations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance too have challenged the judgment.
The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict.
The Centre earlier had informed the apex court that there are an estimated 25 lakh gay population and about seven percent (1.75 lakh) of them are HIV-infected.
In its affidavit, filed by the Union health ministry, it said that it is planning to bring 4 lakh high-risk 'men who have sex with men (MSM)' under its AIDS control programme and it has already covered around 2 lakh of them.