The option of court is always open through PIL when the matter is of public interest. And, one shouldn’t refrain from doing efforts in this regard. One right step in the right direction can affect the rights of the public at large.
Recently the Supreme Court of India in its historical judgement decriminalized the 158 year old law that interpreted consensual gay sex as a criminal offence. This is a landmark victory for activists who were continuously demanding this and had to go through a long struggle for many years.
Here is what, the Section 377 (the law in news) of Indian Penal Code read – “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.”
The grand struggle of 18-years
It is big victory for the LGBT community, as they were demanding this since a long time. The law which was originally made when India was under British rule in 1860 (Indian Penal Code), existed till now. Even after independence, the law continued to remain in force. In 2009, a Delhi High Court judgement, decriminalized the section 377.
However, in 2013, a Supreme Court judgement overturned the decision of Delhi High Court, stating that the decision to amend or repeal any section is of the Parliament and not of the judiciary. A petition filed to review the decision was also dismissed in 2014. And, after that in February 2016, a petition by Naz foundation was reviewed by SC and a five-judge bench looked into the Section 377.
What lesson it gives to us?
Nothing is perfect! Some laws are time being, which turn obsolete with time. Also, some policies may need a review or a look-into. Here comes the remedy – if you think there is some matter which needs to be looked upon, and which is for the betterment of the society, then one can always exercise their rights as a citizen, through the supreme law – Constitution of India. The concept of PIL, which originated in USA also gives the right to each and every citizen to approach the judiciary for relief. Though the right should be bonafide and utmost public interest should be there and it should also affect the society at large.
There are provisions in the Constitution where any citizen can approach the High Court or Supreme Court in a matter of bonafide public interest. Then there are many initiatives of the government, where opinion of the general public is taken over issues. Why just being the beneficiary or mere spectator, when you can contribute and be the stakeholder and increase the transparency & effectiveness of any policy, scheme, etc.
Eminent thinkers also believe that active participation of the citizens in public administration is always welcome and should be encouraged, as they are the beneficiaries of the policies and schemes and their envolvement in policy making will serve the real purpose of public interest. So, we as citizens can play our role in the betterment of the society.