New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs on a Public Interest Litigation asking for the dismissal of Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav for his involvement in the Vyapam Scam case.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justices Shiva Kirti Singh and Amitava Roy sanctioned the proposal of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the solicitor, that the notification should be given. The appeal was registered by activist Sanjay Shukla.
The apex court had previously also decided to hear another plea pursuing the dismissal of Yadav as the Governor, for his supposed envelopment in the scam. A petition was filed against him by a group of lawyers who had sought the removal of Yadav, and asked for recordings of his testimonial in the case.
The case is presently being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The multi-layer scam encompasses the rigging of employment examinations and entrance tests for specialised medical institutes; and the hiring of constables, teachers and forest guards, which were conducted from 2004 to 2012. The CBI is also investigating numerous mysterious killings of whistleblowers fighting against the scandal.
The scam has several deaths to its name, and life threats are being given to whistleblowers trying to assist the CBI in accelerating the investigation. “When the central agency took up the Vyapam scam investigation, we were hopeful that the probe would pick up the pace but they have simply copy-pasted the FIRs registered by the special task force (STF) earlier,” said Bhopal-based whistleblower Ajay Dubey, in an interview with a newspaper.
Till September, the CBI had recorded 83 First Information Reports (FIR) and initiated twelve primary investigations into the Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam) also known as the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam.
The recent notification given by the apex court has come as a sign of substantial growth in the case and a hope of superior and nonbiased judgment in the case of activists fighting for justice.
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)