New Delhi: Disapproving the mass killing of stray dogs by the Thiruvananthapuram civic body, the Supreme Court , however refused to stay it and said the killing of the dangerous dogs and those inflicted with rabies should be guided by rules.
Declining to pass an interim order putting on hold the killing by Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation (MCT), a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice PC Pant said that the killing of the stray dogs should be guided by the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001.
“These rules have not been declared unconstitutional. If rules are there, then they have to be followed” and any killing of dogs has to done according to the rules, said the bench as senior counsel appearing for the Kerala government said that the State high court has held that the rules go beyond the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
The court directed the listing of all the related matter for hearing on November 18, as advocate Archana Sharma told the court that apex court has already stayed the operation of similar orders by the three high courts including by Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh High Courts.
Urging the court to stay the order, PIL petitioner Anupam Tripathi said that the Kerala home minister has justified the killings of the stray dogs saying that there was nothing wrong in it, and that no action should be taken against the killers of the dogs.
Senior counsel Dushyant Dave who is amicus curiae in the matter told the court that two-wheeler riders are the worst sufferers and “I have seen people falling” when they are chased by the street dogs.
Pointing to the cases where new born children were taken away by stray dogs, Dave told the court a person bitten by a stray dogs has to take three injections and they are so expensive that they are beyond the reach of a common man.
The apex court had on October 9 sought the response from the central and Kerala governments on the plea seeking immediate halt to the killing of street dogs by the MCT.
The culling was being carried out in Kerala following an all-party meeting in July where it was decided eliminate more than 2.5 lakh street dogs.
In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults by declaring Section 377, the penal provision which criminalised gay sex, as “manifestly arbitrary”.
In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional.
The bench said it is no longer an offence for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community to engage in consensual sex between two adults in private.
Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice Misra said attitudes and mentality have to change to accept others’ identity and accept what they are, and not what they should be.
“It is the constitutional and not social morality which will prevail,” said the court.
The verdict sparked celebrations in the LGBTIQ community across India even as the judgment was being read out. Many of the community members who had assembled outside the apex court jumped in joy and distributed sweets.
Chief Justice Misra said consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice.
Section 377 will not apply to consensual same-sex acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals, lesbians, the court said, clarifying that sexual act without consent and bestiality will continue to be an offence under section 377.
“An individual has full liberty over his or her body and his or her sexual orientation is a matter of one’s choice,” said the Chief Justice.
“Time to bid adieu to prejudicial perceptions deeply ingrained in social mindset. Time to empower LGBTIQ community against discrimination. They should be allowed to make their choices,” he added.
In a concurring judgement, Justice Nariman said homosexuality is “not a mental disorder or disease”.
He said the LGBTIQ community has an equal right to live with dignity and are entitled to equal protection of law. He directed the Centre to give wide publicity to this judgment to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality.
Justice Chandrachud said to deny the LGBTIQ community their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy.
“They cannot be pushed into obscurity by an oppressive colonial legislation… Sexual minorities in India have lived in fear, hiding as second class citizens,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding “the state has no business to intrude on such matters”.
Justice Indu Malhotra said that history owes an apology to the LGBTIQ community for all that they have suffered on account of the ignorance of the majority about homosexuality.
“LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow,” she said.
The Supreme Court verdict, which overruled its own earlier judgment, assumes significance as in the earlier round of litigation in 2013, the top court had reversed a Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising homosexuality.
The Delhi High Court bench, headed by then Chief Justice A.P. Shah, had in July 2009 legalised homosexual acts between consenting adults by overturning the 149-year-old law — finding it unconstitutional and a hurdle in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya in the Suresh Kumar Koushal and another vs Naz Foundation and others case, had set aside the high court’s judgment and said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.
The matter was subsequently resurrected in July 2016, when a fresh petition was filed by members of the LGBTIQ community — dancer N.S. Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and business executive Ayesha Kapur — which was then marked to the Constitution Bench by a Division Bench.
The reference was made on the basis of submission that it was the first time that individuals directly affected by the provision were approaching the court.
Among the petitioners are a batch of current and former students of Indian Institutes of Technology. Claiming to represent more than 350 LGBTIQ alumni, students, staff and faculty from the IITs, the petitioners said that the existence of Section 377 had caused them “mental trauma and illnesses, such as clinical depression and anxiety and relegated some of them to second-class citizenship”. (IANS)