These Old Lethal Laws

Article for Blog Post Writing Competition 2011 | by Govind Chaturvedi

May 5th, 20112:02 am

The judgment by the honorary Delhi High court, stating that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is repealed, was met with a potpourri of appreciation, adoration and contempt. Needless to say which section of society felt what; however it’s about time someone needed to do what is right. While, the judiciary finally repealed an atrocious and unjust law promoting inequality and injustice. The parliament member are busy discussing “Sach Ka Sammana” in the parliament: and of how it is leading to weakening of society’s threads of morality. There is hardly any time for other things is there for these members of parliament? Discussing reality shows is a higher priority then equality. Finally, the Judiciary did what had been being procrastinated, due to the tyranny of the majority. The homosexuals celebrated for finally being accepted as equals in a society which has put them in the corner far too long. Although, it has bought much needed respite, we need to understand what 377 actually means or  thankfully ‘meant’, and why it being repealed means such a major step forward. Article 377 is a Judeo-Christian law that was meant solely for the purpose of procreation for Christians, because the Indian Penal code was drafted by Lord Macuallay a fanatic Christian. It was incorporated in the Indian law system. While this same law was repealed in England with passing of the Sexual offences act, 1967 in area of England and Wales. What really pesters is that how does a Christian law, which severely limits peoples fundamental rights and tilts the equilibrium of equality, stay in force in a country whose Christian population is less then 2%? Why did the jingoistic and chauvinistic regional parties not make this a point of debate? Or rather was it because we the intelligentsia turned a blind eye to the law, which did not concern them? What is the use of being the world’s largest democracy when we cannot even make laws concerning us by expressing our opinion? Section 377 has been severely misused by the police to extort money from eunuch’s and other homosexuals who have been caught in the act. There has been no conviction under 377 or the last ten years, but the carte blanches power it gives police officers over communities is a blot on freedom and dignity of humanity.

On the other hand this remains just the tip of the iceberg; any law left to us today is a relic. The entire legal system we follow today was given to us by the British. While it is a miracle that the government has been able to manage on such laws, it is the lack of some that really needs our attention. All these laws were made to pander to the British interests in India both as a colony and as a market.  All laws today are hundred years or so old, whether it is the Indian contract act (1872), Indian Penal Code (1860) or Indian Police act(1861). They have not been changed to meet the changing needs of society; our very own constitution has gone through ninety-six amendments in the last sixty years, showing the immense amounts of development that need to take place. At the same time how we have kept up to pace with it. The statistics show almost two amendments every year. Why cannot the other laws go through the same scrutiny as our Founding document. The Police act is the most glaring fallacy of the legal system that exists as to date. The police force in a recent survey has been named the most corrupt and inefficient agency of the country, owing mostly to the fact, that its law system is ancient. Even then, the government has decided to turn a blind eye time and time again. The Shah and National Police Commission reports asked for much needed reforms of the police force. However their advice remains still on paper, falling short to make an impact on the conscience of those that it matters.

Repeal of section 377 has bought fresh hope and concomitantly attention to these old laws that need to be rectified. So, their misuse can be discouraged and bought to an end. As we come back to section 377, although the concept of homosexuality has just been made legal, it is not hard to miss that it has been a part of Indian culture for ages. If you want an example pick up a copy of the Kama sutra a book that is read the world over, was originally India’s cultural production. Strange is it not? that the a concept is being made legal after it has been part of the country’s history and culture for ancient times. However, we should rejoice that finally justice has been done and due attention has been paid. It has led to psychological and moral freedom for people who are no longer afraid to express who they are. While, everything has turned out well in the end with section 377 of the Indian penal code. The right side has won, one fact that still irks me is that after all these years the British can still manage to divide us.

Article by-

Govind Chaturvedi

Student, Amity Law School.

[Submitted as an entry for the Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]

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