Contrary to earlier reports that the Dehli High Court’s ruling to decriminalize homosexuality only applied in the National Capital Territory, today the Times Of India reports that the ruling does indeed apply nationwide.
Since a high court has a limited territorial jurisdiction, is homosexuality decriminalized only in Delhi or the whole country? Although legal pundits are divided on this, the law laid down by a 2004 SC judgment implies that homosexuals across the country may rest assured that they too are entitled to the benefits of the historic Delhi high court decision on Section 377 IPC. In Kusum Ingots vs Union of India, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had ruled: “An order passed on writ petition questioning the constitutionality of a Parliamentary Act, whether interim or final, will have effect throughout the territory of India subject of course to the applicability of the Act.”
In a separate story the Times Of India also reports that the government is unlikely to appeal the High Court’s ruling.
Though under pressure from religious groups of all hues to appeal against the Delhi High Court order legalising gay sex, the Manmohan Singh government is unlikely to move the Supreme Court on its own. The opinion in the government on the fraught issue is far from settled and the Delhi HC may have spared it the tough task of coalescing divergent views into a position. In fact, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi indicated as much when he said that “the verdict has rendered legislative intervention meaningless”.
Veteran gay reporter Rex Wockner has issued requests to several major U.S. newspapers that they correct their earlier reports about the ruling’s impact nationwide.