Equality not just achieved by decriminalisation of Sec 377 alone: Justice Chandrachud

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Justice DY Chandrachud | File photo

New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud on Tuesday said equality is not just achieved by the decriminalisation of Section 377 of the IPC alone but it must also extend to all spheres of life.

Speaking at an event organised by British High Commission, Justice Chandrachud, said "Equality is not just be achieved by the decriminalisation of section 377 of IPC alone, it must extend to all spheres of life including the home, the workplace, the public place, that we occupied."

"While the decision in Navtej (Sec 377) was momentous, we have a long way to go. The Beatles famously sang 'All you need is love, love; Love is all you need'. At the risk of ruffling the feathers of music aficionados everywhere, I take the liberty to disagree with them and say - perhaps we need a little more than love. Structural changes as well as attitudinal changes are essential," he stated.

The British High Commission on Tuesday hosted a reception to mark the fourth anniversary of the landmark Indian Section 377 judgment.

Justice Chandrachud was one of the five judges who passed the historic judgment of striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalised homosexuality.

"I was lucky enough to be the part of that bench that passed the judgement. In the case, we went back and reversed our own view which said that section 377 IPC was constitutional. When we walked into the case we had to take a call about whether our own predecessors were right," he said.

Justice Chandrachud further said, "As a young lawyer and later as judge of the Bombay High Court, "I would walk around the Marine Drive in Mumbai, particularly after the work was done. There was a striking sight which never left my mind that was policemen with a baton in their hand stopping couples either they were of a different gender or from the same gender. They were just tapped with the baton on their shoulder to separate them. It was a clear symbol of what the police can do to create fear amongst the people who were doing nothing but just symbolising love."

He said when the bench was delivering the verdict, there was a striking scene where many people from the LGBT community were crying in the court after the verdict was pronounced. "It was a kind of healing for them of its own kind," he said.

He also said it was not merely a black paper of law that the bench decided. "It was really for a change...But the change really reside in the heart and soul of each one of us in society," he said.

Refering to granting a journalist bail who was picked up at midnight from his bedroom, Justice Chandrachud said there were so many instances where people's liberty is imperilled.

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on September 6, 2018, struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalised homosexuality.

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Rohinton Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, issued the verdict on a bunch of petitions filed to scrap the law. The landmark judgement has had major implications for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

In September 2019, the British High Commission in India celebrated the firstanniversary of the Section 377 judgement together with over 500 people with events in six locations across India, focusing on a number of themes, including diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The UK is co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, which brings together 42 countries committed to working together to promote LGBT+ rights globally.

Earlier this year in July, the UK celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Pride in London.


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