'Seminal importance': SC refers same-sex marriage petitions to Constitution bench
While hearing petitions seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriages, the Supreme Court stated on Monday that the issue was of "seminal importance" in India. It noted that any decision on the subject would have a significant impact on society and referred the case to a five-member Constitution bench, stating that final arguments would be heard by the larger bench on April 18.
Why does this story matter?
- The decision comes a day after the Centre opposed the legal recognition of same-sex marriages in the country in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court.
- As per rough estimates, there are about seven crore LGBTQ+ individuals living in India.
- Nevertheless, the government has repeatedly opposed the registration of same-sex marriages, even though the SC's 2018 judgment decriminalized gay consensual sex.
'Would be appropriate if issues resolved by 5-member bench: CJI
A three-member bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said the judgment on same-sex marriage petitions "will have a huge bearing on society." "We are of the view that it would be appropriate if the issues raised are resolved by the bench of five judges of this court with due regard to A 145(3) of the Constitution," the judges said.
Centre opposed legal validation of same-sex marriages
On Sunday, the Centre, in its affidavit before the top court, contended that same-sex marriage registration would result in a violation of current personal and codified rules in the country. It urged the court to dismiss challenges to the present legal framework, claiming that same-sex partnerships were not equivalent to the concept of the "Indian family unit."
Registration has more ramifications than simple legal recognition: Centre
"The parties entering into marriage create an institution having its own public significance, as it is a social institution from which several rights and liabilities flow," the Centre stated further. "Seeking declaration for solemnization/registration of marriage has more ramifications than simple legal recognition. Family issues are far beyond mere recognition and registration of marriage between persons belonging to the same gender," it added.
Know about pleas filed by same-sex couples
The matter concerns two same-sex couples who petitioned the top court last year to recognize homosexual marriages. One of the couples, Supriyo Chakraborty and Abhay Dang of Hyderabad, have been together for over 10 years. Parth Phiroze Mehrotra and Uday Raj Anand, who have been together for over 17 years, had also filed a similar PIL.
2018 SC judgment that decriminalized gay sex
The Supreme Court decriminalized consensual homosexual sex in September 2018, resolving a decades-long demand of the LGBTQ+ community. A five-judge Constitution bench led by former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra overturned Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which was a 158-year-old colonial-era provision. "The [LGBTQ+] community has the same rights as of any ordinary citizen," Misra had stated.