The Supreme Court referred a batch of curative petitions
against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era provision
criminalising consensual sexual acts of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender (LGBT) adults in private, to a five-judge Constitution Bench for
a possible back-to- roots, in-depth hearing.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur
and Justices Anil R. Dave and J.S. Khehar gave credence to arguments that
the threat imposed by the provision amounts to denial of the rights to
privacy and dignity and results in gross miscarriage of justice.
Chief Justice Thakur said the petitions pose several
questions with “constitutional dimensions of importance” while dictating the
order of reference to a Constitution Bench he would be setting upshortly.
This Bench neither admitted the petitions nor issued
notice to the government, leaving it to the future Constitution Bench to do
so, if found necessary.
Rebelling against its ownprocedural conventions in
dealing with curative pleas, the Supreme Court indicated its openness to
re-consider the constitutionality of Section 377 with new eyes.
Chief Justice Thakur toldthat the new Bench may not limit
itself to the narrow confines of the curative law.
The Curative Bench will only entertain if petitioners
prove that its review verdict violated principles of natural justice and the
judges were biased — and opt for a comprehensive hearing of the arguments
placed for the protection of the dignity and rights of the LGBT community.
As per the apex court’s Rupa Hurra judgment in 2002, the
Bench considering curative pleas should necessarily have the three top
judges of the Supreme Court.
National front-runner Donald Trump lost the first polling
state of Iowa to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in the run for Republican
presidential nomination, an outcome that will keep the race open and make it
The emergence of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who
finished a close third, however, keeps the hopes of conventional Republicans
alive — that they could stop the nomination of Mr. Cruz and Mr. Trump, both
considered insurgents and out of tune withthe party’s traditional base.
Mr. Cruz polled 28 per cent against Mr. Trump’s 24, while
Mr. Rubio, who now seems to have edged out the rest, polled 23 per cent.
In the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton won a razor-
thin victory over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses.
With 100 per cent of precincts reporting, Ms. Clinton
took 49.8 per cent, against 49.6 per cent for the Vermont Senator, her sole
remaining challenger for the Democratic nomination.
North Korea notified UN agencies that it plans to launch
a satellite later this month, which could advance the isolated country’s
development of long- range missile technology.
Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 in
defiance of United Nations sanctions, and last launched a long-range rocket
in 2012, sending an object it described as a communications satellite into
Western and Asian experts have said that launch was part
of an effort to build an inter- continental ballistic missile.
North Korea is under UN sanctions for its nuclear and
missile programmes, and countries including the U.S. and South Korea are
seeking fresh sanctions after its nucle- ar test last month.
North Korea is believed to be making preparations for a
test launch of a long-range rocket, U.S. Officials said last week, after
activity at its test site was observed by satellite.
Pyongyang has said it has a sovereign right to pursue a
space programme by launch- ing rockets, although the U.S. and other
governments worry that such launches are missile tests in disguise.
The International Telecommunication Union, another UN
agency, said that North Korea had informed itof plans to launch a satellite
with a functional duration of four years, in a non-geostationary orbit.