Transformative thinking


“I am what I am, so take me as I am”

These were the famous words of Goethe quoted in the opening paragraph of the recent Supreme Court judgment decriminalizing gay sex. The historic ruling was seen as correcting a long-term wrong that had heaped ignominy, and more, on the country’s LGBT community, who in Justice Indu Malhotra’s opinion was owed an apology. The celebrations that followed were loud and wholly justified.

India Business Law Journal Sep 2018Goethe was not the only great person invoked in the ruling that signals the Supreme Court’s determination to guarantee minority rights. Others include Arthur Schopenhauer, John Stuart Mill and Shakespeare, and coming as it did a year after the court’s landmark ruling that privacy is a fundamental right, it may be assumed that the average Indian has become more tolerant of diversity. Yet, recent acts of intolerance and violence towards other minorities suggest the court may be several steps ahead of society at large.

Evidence that the Supreme Court’s transformative thinking may not be replicated elsewhere is also to be found in a recent decision of the Patent Office to refuse a patent for a sexual stimulation device, which is in essence a moral judgment involving what goes on in the bedroom. The ruling is analysed in our Cover story and raises some interesting legal questions.

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