Attorney General K K Venugopal on Tuesday skipped the much-anticipated hearing on a clutch of pleas seeking decriminalisation of consensual gay sex before the Supreme Court.
I had represented one of the petitioners when a curative petition was filed against the 2013 verdict re-criminalising section 377 of the IPC and did not even know the stand of the government on the issue was, Venugopal stated rescuing himself from appearing in the hearing on Tuesday.
"I had appeared for the curative. I'm told govt's stand is different therefore I'm not appearing in that case at all. I can't appear because govt of India has a different stand," the news agency ANI quoted the Attorney General as saying.
"By the time they (judges) come to SC they will have to have lot of experience. When they start presiding over a bench...they would be able to only do that as a fag end and I find many of them are having unfinished cases because of short-phased age," he added.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra commenced hearing in the matter.
Section 377 which makes homosexuality a criminal offence was first introduced by British India in 1861 and was modelled on Buggery (anal intercourse) Act of 1533. Section 377 of the act was drafted by Thomas Macaulay in 1938 but was brought into effect after 22 years in 1860. The act described buggery as a criminal offence against the will of God. The act made anal penetration, bestiality and homosexuality a crime.
Under this law, a person having carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, is liable be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and will also have to pay a fine.
The Supreme Court in 2013 had set aside the Delhi High Court's 2009 verdict de-criminalising consensual gay sex among adults after which review petition was filed and was later dismissed.
Later, as the last judicial remedy, some of the petitioners had filed curative petitions which the apex court had agreed to hear in the open court.
Following which, several individuals came out with writ petitions and on Tuesday during the hearing, the constitution bench clarified that it was not tagging the curative petitions with the present batch of pleas.
(With inputs from agencies)