Even superlatives do not suffice to convey the full import of the Supreme Court’s reading down archaic, draconian, provisions of Section 377 of the colonial-era Indian Penal Code. The order of the five-member Constitution Bench has been universally acclaimed, India has come of age in contemporary society, setting an example to all progressive democracies.
Yet while there is valid and understandable ecstasy in the LGBTQ community, it would be missing the point if that game-changing verdict were to be perceived only in the context of de-criminalising consensual gay sex ~ it is integral to the apex court’s continuing battle for the liberties enshrined in the Constitution negated by ultra-conservative, regressive, political and religious forces that, alas, have magnetic electoral appeal.
There is something sickeningly hypocritical to the way political parties have bent over backwards to laud that judgment, when they were so craven as to leave it to a few individuals to challenge a horrific law that ought to have been junked through legislative initiative.
Once again has the judiciary filled a breach, delivered where the politicians dared not venture. To put it squarely, the Supreme Court through a series of recent orders is writing a second chapter to the nation’s fight for freedom: striving to translate into living reality what the framers of our Constitution had envisaged ~ a veritable slap in the face for the other two entities of a democracy.
For weeks ahead the four concurring orders will be scanned, analysed for their treasury of “quotable quotes” that have relevance and significance for so many facets of daily life. To attempt to “highlight” some of them in an editorial comment would be to do injustice to their Lordships, yet the call from Justice Indu Malhotra for an apology for decades of cruelty to the LGBTQ community does resonate ~ it encapsulates the crime committed by those who revere the repressive obsolete.
The court is beset with trouble within, from external pressures too ~ that the CJI and his four partners rose to meet a national situation is a display that in military parlance would equate with a performance worthy of a Param Vir Chakra. The legal-minded, indeed common folk too, have been bequeathed a tract in which history, philosophy, morality, propriety etc have all found harmonious articulation.
In the context of its wide application, September 8 would be acclaimed as one of the Indian judiciary’s most honourable hours. Yet it would be silly to think that the war for social liberty has been won ~ their Lordships have themselves alerted us to that disturbing reality.
Regressive forces will resort to underhand means to nullify the call of the bugles sounded from Tilak Marg. Not just the LGBTQ community but the people at large must galvanise themselves to continue to fight for what was partially attained on August 15, 1947 and January 26 ,I950. India still has “promises to keep….”