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After delivering gay sex verdict, Justice GS Singhvi retires as SC judge

PTI
Published Dec 12, 2013, 12:41 am IST
Updated Mar 18, 2019, 11:25 pm IST
Justice Singhvi retires after delivering his last judgement upholding gay sex as a criminal offence.

New Delhi: Justice G S Singhvi, known as a bold and pro-active Supreme Court judge who kept government on tenterhooks on public issues including 2G spectrum scam, retired on Wednesday after delivering his last judgement upholding gay sex as a criminal offence.

When quizzed on the uproar against the gay sex verdict, Singhvi said that those criticising the verdict must read it fully first. 

 

Justice G.S. Singhvi refrained from making any comment on the criticism he received from the LGBT community for his last judgment upholding gay sex as criminal offence.

"Please read the judgement first. Then you can come and ask me questions," Justice Singhvi, who demitted office as a judge of the Supreme Court today, said in response to a question that the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders community across the country was disappointed with his decision to set aside the Delhi High Court judgement.

His view was sought after a program to bid him farewell on his last day at the apex court. In his judgement, Justice Singhvi set aside the 2009 verdict of the Delhi High Court which had decriminalised gay sex among consenting adults in private.

Justice Singhvi left it to the Parliament to amend section 377 of the IPC which considers gay sex as an offence and prescribes a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Speaking at the function, Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam appreciated the work done by Justice Singhvi in his over six-year-long tenure in the apex court and praised the view taken by him in various cases including the Noida land acquisition matter.

He said Justice Singhvi was a part of the judiciary for over 23 years and in his six years in the apex court he passed several important judgements on issues which includes the Noida land acquisition, the use of red beacons and gay sex. The CJI also credited Singhvi for the success of the recently held National Lok Adalat which had disposed of 71.78 lakh cases across the country.

The CJI also said that a Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee, headed by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, has been set up to look into complaints of sexual harassment within the apex court precincts. The panel will work as per Vishaka guidelines, he said.

Meanwhile, M.N. Krishnamani, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said he was in agreement with the verdict on gay sex and welcomed it saying "it is a very good judgement".

"I am in agreement with the verdict. It (the issue of legality of section 377) is rightly delegated to the Parliament," he said. He, however, questioned the reason for the gap of over a year between reserving the verdict in the matter and its pronouncement.
 

Next: Bold and pro-active Singhvi

Bold and pro-active Singhvi

Singhvi, the senior most Supreme Court judge, who heard a number of sensitive cases and pronounced landmark verdicts including scrapping of 2G spectrum licences during his a little over six-year tenure, had given a body blow to politicians and bureaucrats on Tueday with a path-breaking judgement against misuse of red beacon lights on vehicles used by them, saying it was reflective of the "Raj mentality".

The 65-year-old judge had hit the spotlight when he directed the CBI to probe into various aspects of criminality arising out of the intercepted conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with corporates, politicians and journalists.

However, Singhvi who used to go minutely into the case files, left unfinished the issue of right to privacy raised by former Tata chief Ratan Tata which arose from the Radia tapes and his tenure also saw many of the other important issues being left undecided.

This includes plea on new drug pricing, police reforms and banning gutka.

The judge, whose many orders brought relief to the underprivileged and weaker sections, however, reflected his conservative and traditional approach regarding rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans genders (LGBT) by setting aside the Delhi High Court's verdict which had ruled that no discrimination can be permitted in the country on the basis of sexual preferences.

His verdict drew sharp criticism from various quarters including some senior lawyers, who said that a historical opportunity to expand the constitutional values was lost by the judge.

Justice Singhvi had also held that all natural resources are national assets and have to be allocated keeping in view the national interest and not the private interests.

The 2G spectrum scam was one of his most important cases in which he didn't even spare the Prime Minister's Office and minced no words in criticising government functionaries which led to resignation of former Telecom Minister A Raja.

The close scrutiny of 2G scam probe by a bench headed by Justice Singhvi led to several top corporate honchos, politicians and bureaucrats finding themselves in jail.

Justice Singhvi, who became the judge of the Rajasthan High Court in 1990, also worked in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Gujarat High Court and became the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court before his elevation as the Supreme Court judge on November 12, 2007.

Known as a no non-sense judge, he made concerted efforts to protect the dignity of retired judges which was reflected during the hearing for establishment of National Green Tribunal and its benches with his observations that the judges should be given accommodation and facilities commensurate to their high office. 

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