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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

SC declines to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday in its verdict declined to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages, noting that it is only for the Parliament and state legislatures to create such institutions and grant them legal validation.

The Supreme Court were unanimous that it is beyond their remit to issue a positive direction to the legislature to accord legal recognition to same-sex marriage.

The constitution bench of five judges, comprising Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha, were unanimous that it is beyond the remit of courts to issue a positive direction to the legislature to accord legal recognition to same-sex marriages.

The judges were also unanimous in giving a go ahead to a high-powered committee proposed by the Centre in May to examine the concerns of same-sex couples and moot certain corrective measures.

One of the judges, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, agreed with the CJI’s views, and said that the state must ensure that queer couples faced no discrimination in accessing basic needs and societal tolerance.

He said that giving right of marriage to queer couple by court was not possible as it is a legislative exercise.

They must be given their due rights, so that they will mix with the society, Justice Kaul said.

Justice S Ravindra Bhat, one of the other judges out of five, said, queerness is neither urban nor elitist. However, I do not agree with the directions issued by the Chief Justice of India.

“Role of legislature has been to be act as a codifier of customs and wherever necessary intervene in furtherance of Article 14 and 15(3) to enact laws,” he said.

We do not particularly subscribe to the views of CJI on democratising intimate spaces. These outcomes were brought by legislative acts.

The judgments, separately authored by the CJI and Justices Kaul, Bhat and Narasimha, also refused to annul or tweak the provisions of the Special Marriage Act (SMA) to include non-heterosexual couples within its fold, even as they declared that queer couples have a right to cohabit without any threat of violence, coercion of interference.

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