TOPIC OF THE DAY:- Long road to freedom

In July 2009, however, the Delhi High Court, in a judgment delivered by a bench comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar, rejected this vision, and declared Section 377, insofar as it criminalised homosexuality, unconstitutional. In the court’s belief, the law was patently discriminatory. It offended not only a slew of explicitly guaranteed fundamental rights — in this case, Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 — but also what the judgment described as “constitutional morality”. “Moral indignation, howsoever strong, is not a valid basis for overriding individual’s fundamental rights of dignity and privacy,” the court wrote. “In our scheme of things, constitutional morality must outweigh the argument of public morality, even if it be the majoritarian view.”

At the time this was a grand statement to make. Indeed, barely four years later, the Supreme Court reversed the findings in Naz, and rendered the judgment’s radical vision nugatory. In a shattering verdict, the court, in Suresh Kumar Koushal, once again declared homosexuality an offence. LGTBQ persons, to the court, constituted only a “miniscule minority”, and they enjoyed, in the court’s belief, neither a right to be treated as equals nor a right to ethical independence, a freedom to decide for themselves how they wanted to lead their lives.

But now, in Navtej Singh Johar, the court has restored both the quotidian and the outstanding glories of the judgment in Naz. Unexceptionally, Section 377, it has found, infringes the guarantee of equality in Article 14, the promise against discrimination in Article 15, the right to free expression contained in Article 19, and the pledges of human dignity and privacy inherent in Article 21. But, perhaps, more critically, the court has taken inspiration from Naz in bringing to the heart of constitutional interpretation a theory that seeks to find how best to understand what equal moral status in society really demands, a theory that engages profoundly with India’s social and political history.


1) patently

Meaning : clearly; without doubt.

Synonyms : decidedly , notably

Antonyms : unremarkably

Example : “these claims were patently false”

2) discriminate

Meaning : recognize a distinction; differentiate.

Synonyms : segregate , favor

Antonyms : confuse

Example : “babies can discriminate between different facial expressions”

3) slew

Meaning : turn or slide violently or uncontrollably.

Synonyms : abundance , bundle

Antonyms : debt

Example : “the Renault slewed from side to side in the snow”

4) dignity

Meaning : the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect.

Synonyms : decorum , greatness

Antonyms : dishonor

Example : “the dignity of labour”

5) conception

Meaning : the action of conceiving a child or of one being conceived.

Synonyms : perception , notion

Antonyms :fact

Example : “an unfertilized egg before conception”

6) render

Meaning : provide or give (a service, help, etc.).

Synonyms : deliver , provide

Antonyms : take

Example : “money serves as a reward for services rendered

7) nugatory

Meaning : of no value or importance.

Synonyms : inadequate

Antonyms : impactful

Example : “a nugatory and pointless observation”

8) shatter

Meaning : break or cause to break suddenly and violently into pieces.

Synonyms : dash , demolish

Antonyms : build

Example : “bullets riddled the bar top, glasses shattered, bottles exploded”

9) verdict

Meaning : a decision on an issue of fact in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.

Synonyms : decision , answer

Antonyms : accusation

Example : “the jury returned a verdict of not guilty”

10) offence

Meaning : a breach of a law or rule; an illegal act.

Synonyms : infraction , breach

Antonyms : behavior

Example : “the new offence of obtaining property by deception”

11) infringes

Meaning : actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.).

Synonyms : breach , impose

Antonyms : give

Example : “making an unauthorized copy would infringe copyright”