The apex court referred the curative plea seeking re-examination of its earlier verdict on criminalizing homosexuality to its five-judge constitution bench.
The colonial-era law — Section 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalizes sexual activities that contradicts the order of nature including the homosexual acts or gay sex.
The court decision has come as relief for members of the LGBT community, who accuse police of often misusing the law to harass them.
Eyewitnesses said the members standing outside the court broke into cheers and celebrations when the news about court’s decision reached them.
As per the existing law, violators are punishable by a jail term up to 10 years.
India is a deeply conservative country and homosexuality is a taboo. Majority of the people consider same-sex relationships as illegitimate.
For quite some time a vocal campaign is ongoing in India to decriminalize homosexuality.
In 2009, New Delhi high court declared Section 377 of IPC unconstitutional.
However, the judgment was overturned by Supreme Court in 2013 with the direction that amending or repealing the law should be left to parliament rather than judiciary.
In December 2015, the introduction of a private member’s bill in Indian parliament seeking to repeal section 377 was blocked in the lower house of the lawmaking body.
With India parliament in no hurry to act, and having majority of its members from Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party, the activists sought a review of Supreme Court order.
The curative petition (meant to re-examine the previous judgment perceived as flawed) with Supreme Court will now reconsider its 2103 judgment of upholding law criminalizing homosexuality.
The court has not announced the next day of hearing into the matter.
Of late members from LGBT community have gained some degree of acceptance in India’s big cities and people especially in India’s film industry (bollywood) are openly coming out in their support.
A leading human rights watchdog – Amnesty International described India’s top court’s decision on Section 377 as “positive development” and “another chance to repeal the law.”
“The Supreme Court has another chance to correct a grave error, which continues to put LGBT people under physical, mental and legal threat,” a statement issued by London based rights group said.