The LexGaze Weekly - STALWARTS

Senior Advocate Mr Anand Grover

Yamika Khanna

Issue 1 | June 20, 2020

Senior Advocate Mr Anand Grover

[Senior Advocate Mr Anand Grover’s life and works are embodiments of the latent power of the law- the ability to effect massive change. We at LexGaze admire the work done by him for the betterment of the LGBTQ+ community in India and spreading awareness about the HIV. In this week’s “Stalwarts”, Yamika Khanna chronicles his life and contributions.]

Senior Advocate Anand Grover started his long battle against the Victorian school of thought reflected in the mindset of the general public of India, with the aim of seeking justice and equality for the LGBTQ+ community in the 1970s. Mr. Grover's first battle for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community began when he filed a petition against the incarceration of HIV-positive activist Dominic D'Souza under Goan public health legislation. Even as Mr Grover lost the case, it left a significant impact on the judicial and legislative intent with reference to the rights of people battling with HIV/AIDS mirrored in the amendment made to the Goa Public Health Act. The Bombay High Court in MX v ZY further ruled against discrimination in public sector employment on the basis of HIV status marking the first victory for Mr Grover in his long voyage of ensuring justice for the LGBTQ community.

After this remarkable achievement, Mr. Grover actively participated in drafting the HIV/AIDS Act, about which he says “The dream of having an integrationist approach which requires testing with informed consent and preserving confidentiality and integration of the individual in society has been passed.”

The next milestone achieved by Mr. Grover was one that inspired tremendous adulation. After working intensely with the LGBTQ+ community, Mr.Grover developed a strong sense of resentment towards Section 377 which prohibited homosexual intercourse and hence, decided to challenge the said legal provisions in the Delhi High Court. A large proportion of his arguments were inspired by his work concerned with those battling with HIV/AIDS and he was criticised for not arguing the fundamental question of gay rights in the country. To this Mr Grover asserted that "Any lawyer worth his salt will tell you never to give up an argument, more so on ideological grounds, Grounds in law are like tools. You should use them the way you want to."

Ultimately Mr Grover was able to gun down the worn out law of the British mentality of sodomy by proving it to be a gross violation of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution in the case of Naz Foundation v NCT of Delhi and Ors. The Delhi High Court in its landmark judgement recognised the rights of the LGBTQ community and decriminalised homosexual intercourse by striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The case emerged as a beacon of hope for the community, paving way for the judgement delivered by the Apex Court in the Navtej Singh Johar case.

Furthermore, Mr Grover's role in enabling the court to recognise Transgender people as those belonging to the third gender in NALSA v.UOI is unparalleled in the sphere of human rights. The case broke the traditionally recognised binary gender norms in legal and administrative practices. Mr. Anand Grover appeared on behalf of Laxmi Narayan Tripathy, a famous hijra activist, and an intervener in the matter and pointed out that "gender is now understood as a continuum or a range, which is not restricted to the binary of male and female gender alone and which may be different from a person’s biological sex." He argued that a person’s sense or experience of gender is integral to their core personality and their sense of being and the assertion of gender should be based on individual autonomy and shouldn't be confined to the medical requirements. These submissions made by Mr Grover were a major contributor to enabling the transgender community to live a life of dignity and provided them with the right of choosing the gender that they recognise themselves with marking another victory for the LGBTQ+ community.

The relentless pursuit of justice, equality and empowerment for the LGBTQ+ community by Mr. Grover is an unparalleled portrayal of being the change that you wish to see. His work has laid the foundation stone for the struggle of LGBTQ+ community which still has a long way to go.