The law benders
Posted online: Friday , Jul 03, 2009 at 0324 hrs, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-law-benders/484408/
New Delhi : You seem to have gathered much evidence that homosexuality is not a disease,” Chief Justice A P Shah told the petitioners arguing against Section 377 in court, “unlike the (other side’s) lawyers, who have argued that ‘homosexuality is a matter of fun’.” The asymmetry in legal arsenal is no coincidence. The petitioners, Naz Foundation along with ‘Voices against 377’, had an army of young lawyers to wade through India’s Byzantine case law history, refer to parallels across the world and produce affidavit after affidavit. And they all did it for free. The lead lawyer for ‘Voices against 377’ was Shyam Divan. Helping him were a host of lawyers armed with impressive degrees. Shrimoyee Ghosh, Jawahar Raja, Arvind Narain, Mayur Suresh and Vasuman Khandelwal are all young lawyers from National Law School, Bangalore.
Naz Foundation, the petitioner, was represented by Anand Grover from law firm Lawyer’s Collective. His arguments focused on linking health concerns of homosexuals to their ‘right to privacy’, in turn linked to their right to dignity. Assisting him were Trideep Pais, and Tripti Tandon — involved with the case since the beginning. Shivangi Rai and Mehak Sethi, both from India’s top law schools, rejected the lure of high paying corporate jobs to fight the case. “We are not just activists,” Rai says. “So we use our legal skills to make a persuasive case in court, not just shrill rhetoric.”
Why did they fight for free? For Mayur, it was his own gay identity, while for others like Vasuman it was the need to accord dignity to homosexuals.