What it Means: Supreme Court Transfers Same-Sex Marriage Petitions To Itself

Same-Sex Marriage In India, All Petitions Transferred To SC, Trans Women Athletes, Bisexual
Supreme Court (SC), on 6 January, Friday clubbed all pending petitions before different high courts across the country on the issue of legal recognition of same-sex marriages and transferred them to itself. Chief Justice DY Chandrachud headed the bench that transferred the petitions. Along with Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, Justice DY Chandrachud has asked the Centre to file its joint reply to all the petitions on the issue by February 15 and all the petitions will be listed in March. Here is a look at what this move of the Supreme Court means. 

This means the decision to make same-sex marriage legal lies in the hand of the Supreme Court. Instead of individual hearings on the case in different high courts across India, now all cases will be heard under one umbrella by the SC bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud. For the petitioner, it is good news because they have been demanding the hearing to be done by the apex court. Several advocates also request the same, as the petitions could have solid grounds for arguments. This will fasten the verdict on the long pending petition and also save the time of HC in hearing the case individually. Moreover, SC has also provided the option to the petitioner to be present for the hearing through a virtual medium. 

Same-Sex Marriage In India, All Petitions Transferred To SC

What this move of SC means to everyone who is fighting for recognition of same-sex marriage as well as the court. The petition filed by two gay couples – Supriyo Chakraborty and Abhay Dang, and Parth Phiroze Mehrotra and Uday Raj Anand -seeks recognition of same-sex marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, which has been pending for two years. The petitioners argue not acknowledging same-sex marriage violates their right to equality. These marriages not being recognized have implications on personal liberty, adoption, financial matters, and more. All the petitions might have different issues, and the court can examine them from varied perspectives instead of on petition. It will also have more transparency and quick decision-making. 

One of the petitioners pointed out that as they cannot legally solemnize their marriage, they are unable to have a legal relationship as parents with both of their kids. This can bring relief to couples who want to have kids or adopt, ensuring the inclusivity of parenthood irrespective of sexual orientation. 

Besides, the matter will be heard by Justice Chandrachud, which is a plus point for the LGBTQIA+ community as earlier he was a member of the constitution bench, which decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults, and recognized sexual autonomy as a basic right of individuals in 2018. CJI has been an ally to the community, he earlier said, ” the age-old conventional understanding of a family unit must change to accommodate new familial relationships which may or may not involve marriage. The unconventional families must be able to enjoy all the legal and societal benefits that their more traditional counterparts do, whether through marriage or otherwise.

“When I say unconventional families, I do not mean to refer only to queer couples but also to others who choose to live their lives in a manner that deviates from the accepted norm. Our very understanding of the family unit must change to include the myriad ways in which individuals forge familial bonds”, added CJI Chandrachud.

These words by CJI seem comforting for the community, however, time will tell whether the community will get to entitle their relationships or not. The hearing on the matter will start in the month of March, if the verdict comes in favour of the petitioner, then India might become the 33rd country to legalize same-sex marriage. There are currently 32 countries where same-sex marriage is legal. Earlier, in 2011, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted a single case of legal recognition of same-sex marriage. 

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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