Sex and the Supreme Court: How the Law is Upholding the Dignity of the Indian Citizen

Front Cover
Saurabh Kirpal
Hachette India, Aug 27, 2020 - Law - 352 pages

'The Constitution [of India] has within it the ability to produce social catharsis...'

At 12.12 p.m. on 6 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India created history by reading down Section 377 - reversing an archaic law laid down by the British in 1860 and decriminalizing homosexuality for the first time in modern India.

Yet, this is not the only ruling that the Supreme Court has made in recent times championing the rights of an individual to her or his identity and dignity.

From empowering the transgender community and lending teeth to the prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace, to protecting the privacy, rights and dignity of women and minorities on issues such as interfaith marriages, entering the Sabarimala temple, the controversial triple talaq and the striking down of the adultery law - the highest court of the land has firmly placed the individual at the centre of the constitutional firmament, and set a course for progressive societal reform.

This remarkable collection of writings by legal luminaries is the only book to offer sharp insights into each of these crucial rulings. Justice M.B. Lokur writes on the issues that affect the transgender community; Justice B.D. Ahmed elucidates on Muslim law in the modern context; and Justice A.K. Sikri addresses the fundamental concept of dignity, which binds together all the essays in this book. Some of the best-known names in Indian law - Mukul Rohatgi, Madhavi Divan, Menaka Guruswamy, Arundhati Katju and Saurabh Kirpal - offer legal perspectives of judgements on sex, sexuality and gender. From petitioners like Ritu Dalmia, Keshav Suri and Zainab Patel, we hear personal narratives of being a part of the LGBTQ community in India, while journalist Namita Bhandare provides a powerful account of the struggle against sexual harassment.

An unprecedented documentation of the rulings that have set a standard for the rights and liberties of sexual minorities and women in India, Sex and the Supreme Court is also an invaluable record for posterity - for it reveals the power of the country's courts to uphold the privacy, dignity and safety of its citizens.

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About the author (2020)

After studying physics at St Stephen’s College in Delhi, Saurabh Kirpal read law at the University of Oxford and did his Master in Law at the University of Cambridge. Following a brief stint at the United Nations in Geneva, he returned to Delhi. He has been practising law at the Supreme Court of India for over two decades now. He has appeared in a range of matters involving fundamental rights, and his clients cross the political and ideological spectrum. He was the counsel for Navtej Johar, Ritu Dalmia and others in the case that led to the reading down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in 2018.

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