In a verdict that releases thousands of Indians from the fear of prosecution and legal discrimination, the Supreme Court struck down Section 377 as illegal and arbitrary. The law, formed in 1860, was repealed by a bench led by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra and comprising of justices Fali Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The act criminalised various sexual acts, especially those between members of the same gender.
Here are ten iconic statements made by CJI Dipak Misra as part of the judgement:
1. “I am what I am. So take me as I am. No one can escape from their individuality.”
2. “Morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality. Only Constitutional morality exists in our country.”
3. “Majoritarian views and popular views cannot dictate constitutional rights. LGBT community possesses human rights like all other sections of society. Equality is the essence of the constitution. 377 is arbitrary.”
4. “Certain sections of our society have been living in shackles of exclusion. We have to vanquish prejudice and embrace inclusion and ensure equal rights. ”
5. “We have to foster tolerance and peaceful coexistence, and we have to respect them for who they are and not ask them to be who they aren’t,”
6. “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is [a] violation of freedom of speech and expression.”
7. “Autonomy is individualistic, people in private can choose to share intimacy with individuals of their choice.”
8. Sexual orientation is one of many biological phenomenon. It is natural and no discrimination can exist. Any violation is against freedom of speech and expression.
9. “No one can escape from their individualism. Society is now better for individualism. In the present case, our deliberations will be on various spectrums.”
10. Section 377 is irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)