District Judge Bhargava was perturbed. Supreme court had overturned the 2009 decriminalization of Gay sex under section 377 in its judgement in Suresh Kumar vs. Naz Foundation. Having hailed from a liberal family, his liberal values had been fortified by his extensive studies and analytical approach to world affairs.
When he came to know of his son Ramesh’s partnership with his colleague Charan, he was understanding. Although his wife was agitated, he calmed her down by explaining how there is nothing immoral or irreligious about different sexual inclinations. Luckily it was not illegal either. But not anymore! “My son is a criminal now!”, the judge muttered to himself in anguish.
When he reached his court a few days later, he was shocked to find that section 377 has been slapped on Ramesh and Charan. He learnt from police sources that this was initiated by his long-time adversary, Advocate Pratap. This rivalry dated back to their law college days and was inflamed by the professional success of Bhargava and the failure of Pratap. Now Pratap who nursed a deep-seated hatred for Bhargava, sensed an opportunity in the re-criminalization of Gay sex and had dragged Ramesh into the very court of Judge Bhargava.
The first thought of Bhargava was to resign. Then he recalled Lord Krishna’s admonishment to Arjuna and determined not to run away from his duties. He heard the case and imposed a fine of Rs.10000 each as well as an 1-year simple imprisonment. But he included a scathing indictment of the criminalization. He quoted Justice Leila Seth, “what makes life meaningful is love. The right that makes us human is the right to love. To criminalize the expression of that love is profoundly cruel and inhumane. To acquiesce in such criminalization or, worse, to recriminalize is to display the very opposite of compassion”. He knew he would be hauled up for Contempt of Court by the higher ups. In anticipation, he submitted his resignation the very same day.
Years passed. On 24 August 2017, the 5-member constitution bench of the supreme court upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right in the landmark Puttaswamy judgement. Elated, Bhargava rushed to his house and stood in front of the garlanded portrait of his wife. “Sushila, our son is not a criminal anymore! How I wish you were here to share in our joy! Rest in peace, my dear!”
- Former Judge Bhargava is a well-respected senior advocate in the Supreme court and specializes in taking up the cause of differently inclined members of our civil society
- Ramesh and Charan after their Jail term, had launched a start-up in robotics which has become a unicorn in record time.
- Pratap who had become an incurable alcoholic lost his practice. His family has disowned him.
Every storm is followed by a rainbow!
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