Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality and “unnatural sex”, is being misused to settle scores. Delhi police has picked up nearly 100 people under Section 377 in 2015 and 2016, but has been able to charge-sheet only half that number till date. This is according to the RTI reply received by The Sunday Guardian from the Delhi police. Complainants include those who are out of broken relationships or had fights with their partners. Some complaints also arose out of grudges.
As per the responses shared, a total of 120 cases had been registered in the various police stations in Delhi against 96 people who were “found” by the Delhi police to have “engaged” in homosexuality during 2015 and 2016. However, out of the total number of cases registered and persons arrested, only 50 have been charge-sheeted till date.
However, these numbers do not provide the complete picture as, out of the total 13 police districts in Delhi, only seven police districts have provided the requisite information till the time of going to press. Not surprisingly, among the total number of persons arrested for “homosexuality”, all were male. A senior police official told this correspondent, on the condition of anonymity, that it is not only men who engage in same sex relationships, even women do. “But cases are registered against men because they are vulnerable and easy targets. When it comes to women, even we are scared to arrest them in such cases despite having information.”
However, despite the large number of cases registered under Section 377, the conviction rate in such cases is very low, according to Anand Grover, a senior lawyer who supports LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) rights.
Grover told The Sunday Guardian, “Most of the cases that are registered with the police are bogus ones, and they do not stand in a court of law. The conviction rate in such cases is also very low, because it is very difficult for the prosecution to prove it.”
Anjali Gopalan, executive director of Naz Foundation, an NGO, also rubbished cases filed under Section 377 as false and bogus. “The sheer number of cases registered shows that we are still penalising people with a colonial law that does not hold any relevance in modern society,” she said and accused the police of falsely registering cases against men, often just to harass them. “The LGBT community is living in constant fear every day because they are vulnerable to the law that does not respect their freedom of choice. The police harass them, society looks down upon them, and sometimes their own family disowns them,” Anjali Gopalan said.