New Delhi:  Pulling up the Centre for its "casual" approach on important issue of decriminalisation of homosexuality, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it needs to be condemned.
   
After going through various affidavits of the government, a bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhyay said the Centre has taken this case very casually.
   
"They have taken this case very casually. This practice needs to be condemned and we are going to say it in our judgment," the bench observed.
   
It further said it is a peculiar case in which the government is taking a neutral stand before the Apex Court on such an important issue after contesting the matter in the High Court.
   
"We don't know in how many cases they have been neutral. This is one of the peculiar cases where the Centre, which had contested the matter in the High Court, is taking a neutral stand. The government comes with the stand that they are neutral. Which one is to be accepted, the affidavits filed in the high court or its stand of neutrality in the Supreme Court," the bench observed.
   
The bench also expressed concern that during the last 60 years the Parliament has not considered amending Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, despite recommendations for it by the Law Commission.
   
"The highest legislature doesn't have time to consider these issues. How long will the people of this country wait for the legislature to find time to consider these issues," the bench observed.

The Apex Court was hearing petitions by anti-gay rights activists and also by political, social and religious organisations, opposing the High Court verdict.
   
The Delhi High Court had in 2009 decriminalised gay sex as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and had ruled that sex between two consenting adults of same sex in private would not be an offence.
   
Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex a criminal offence entailing punishment up to life term.    

Senior BJP leader B P Singhal has challenged the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court saying such acts are illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture.
   
Religious organisations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance too have challenged the judgment.
   
The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict.
   
The Centre earlier had informed the apex court that there is an estimated 25 lakh gay population and about seven percent (1.75 lakh) of them are HIV-infected.
   
In its affidavit, filed by the Union health ministry, it said that it is planning to bring 4 lakh high-risk 'men who have sex with men (MSM)' under its AIDS control programme and it has already covered around 2 lakh of them.
   
Earlier, Naz Foundation, an NGO, working for the welfare and rehabilitation of HIV-infected persons, contended that criminalising homosexual acts is against constitutional values and law should not interfere when consenting adults are involved.
   
"It amounts to demeaning their worth and marginalizing them in society. They are not able to reveal their sexual expression as it has been made an offence in the society. Even incest is not an offence," the NGO had said.

(Agencies)