Senior Advocate Menaka Guruswamy and Advocate Arundhati Katju, who led the Supreme Court battle to decriminalise homosexuality in India, have been recognized by the TIME magazine in their list of 100 Most Influential People of 2019. Bollywood and Hollywood actress Priyanka Chopra contributed to the Time Magazine piece on both Menaka and Arundhati.
In September 2018, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court read down Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code to decriminalise consensual sexual acts between homosexuals, thanks in part to the efforts undertaken by Guruswamy and Katju, who appeared for the petitioners in the case.
“Armed with a well-planned strategy that went beyond their well-researched legal arguments, Arundhati and Menaka became beacons of hope for the Indian LGBTQ+ community. Their perseverance and commitment led an entire community to a historic win by humanizing their struggles and giving them the freedom to love. As the Chief Justice said, “Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality,” wrote actor Priyanka Chopra on TIME to mark their recognition in this year’s list.
Guruswamy is a graduate of NLSIU Bangalore and a Rhodes Scholar. In September 2017, a portrait of Guruswamy was unveiled at Rhodes House in Oxford University. This was done at an event held in celebration of ’40 years of Rhodes women’, organised by the Rhodes Trust. She was also featured in the 6th Harvard Law International Women’s Day Portrait Exhibit earlier this year.
Katju is also an NLSIU graduate. She holds an LLM from Columbia Law School, where she was a Human Rights Fellow, James Kent Scholar, and Public Interest Honoree. She has taught in the National Law University, Delhi as Visiting Faculty. Among other roles, she has also served as a panel lawyer for the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee. Her pro bono work includes representing child sexual abuse survivors in cases against their abusers.
Here is our interview with Menaka Guruswamy right after the Supreme Court verdict.