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Supreme Court Upholds it’s Earlier Verdict: Victim Cannot Appeal Without High Court’s Permission

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New Delhi, April 13, 2017: The Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its verdict holding that a victim in a criminal case cannot file an appeal against an order of acquittal without permission of the high court concerned.

A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit said there was no need to refer the matter to a larger bench for reconsideration of its 2015 judgement in which it was held that a victim cannot file an appeal against an order of acquittal without the leave of the high court.

The issue had arisen after a victim had appealed to the Gauhati High Court, who had not taken its permission to file the petition challenging the acquittal of the accused in a rape case.

As the appeal of the victim was admitted by the high court, the man, who was acquitted by the trial court in Tripura, moved the apex court which had appointed an amicus curiae to assist it in the matter, mentioned PTI.

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“Though the amicus curie has suggested that these matters be referred to a larger bench for reconsideration of the decision of this court, we do not think that such a course ought to be adopted in the present matter. The special leave petition has been pending in this court for last 5 years.

“In any case, in the present matter the victim had preferred an application to treat the appeal initially filed under Section 372 to be one under Section 372 read with Section 378 CrPC. Though the high court observed that no such leave was necessary, the matter now assumes a different complexion in the light of the decision in…. the (earlier judgement),” the bench said.

It said, “Since there is already an application on behalf of the victim to treat the appeal before the high court under Section 372 read with Section 378 CrPC, in our considered view the leave ought to be granted, which we at present do.

“The pending appeal shall now be considered on merits by the high court. This appeal, thus, stands disposed of.”

Section 372 of the CrPC deals with the rights of the victim to file an appeal against acquittal, conviction of accused for a lesser offence and imposition of inadequate compensation.

The man was acquitted by the trial court of charges of rape, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation.

In the rape case, the victim appealed against the trial court judgment before the high court and when the appeal was listed for admission, an objection was taken by the accused that unless ‘leave’ was granted, the appeal could not be admitted.

To this, the victim filed a petition for treating the criminal appeal to be filed under the relevant provisions.

But the high court had held that there was an unfettered right conferred upon the victim by Section 372 CrPC and that no leave was required for the victim to file such appeal.

The accused, however, challenged the high court order in the apex court.

– Prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself

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India Gets A Win, Supreme Court Decriminalizes Homosexuality

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

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SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

 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.

Homosexuality, India
LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow.
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“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.

Homosexuality, India
In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional. Pixabay

 

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.

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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.

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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)