September 16, 2020
In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court on August 24 declared privacy a fundamental right. The nine-judge bench gave a unanimous verdict that the right to privacy is to be held as an inalienable fundamental right that protects individuals from arbitrary state interference and prevents the state from being totalitarian. The verdict could help end 149-year-old British-era law that makes homosexual acts criminal and punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
“Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform. The right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution,” Justice Dhananjay Y Chandrachud, who authored the lead judgment holding privacy to be a fundamental right, said.
“I am over the moon,” said Anjali Gopalan, founder of Naz Foundation that petitioned the HC in 2001 against section 377.
Members of the community across cities hailed the verdict and said it would boost their fight against a 2013 top court judgment – popularly known as the Suresh Koushal verdict – that left it to Parliament to scrap section 377 that bans “unnatural sex”.
“I welcome this judgment. It is a relief to hear sexuality spoken of in the language of rights and dignity,” said Gautam Bhan, a professor, activist and one of the original petitioners in the petition against section 377.
Read the Full Judgement Below: