Delhi HC To Hear Pleas For Same-Sex Marriages Recognition Next Month

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Same Sex Marriages: The Delhi High Court has scheduled the final hearing of pleas submitted by two same-sex couples seeking a declaration recognising same-sex marriages under the special, Hindu and foreign marriage laws on November 30.

Other separate pleas will also be heard next month. A bench led by Justice Jyoti Singh and Chief Justice DN Patel granted time to parties concerned in the petition to file their replies and rejoinders in the matter. As per a report, one petition submitted by Abhijit Iyer and others contends that same-sex marriages are not possible despite same-sex relationships being ruled legal by Supreme Court. The petitioners sought a declaration of same-sex marriage being recognised under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and Special Marriage Act (SMA).

Two other petitions will be heard. One submitted by two seeking to marry under SMA and challenging provisions of the act for not including same-sex marriages. Another plea was submitted by two men who reportedly got married in the USA but were denied registration of the same under the Foreign Marriage Act (FMA).

As per a report, one petitioner sought the court to allow a foreign-origin spouse of an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder to apply for OCI registration irrespective of their gender and sexual orientation. The petitioners as per reports are, Joydeep Sengupta and Russel Blaine Stephens, US citizen. Indian citizen Mario Dpenha and a queer rights academic and activist doing a Ph.D. at Rutgers University, USA.

Advocate Karuna Nandy represented the couple and said that they got married in New York and the FMA, SMA and the Citizenship Act are applicable in their case. Nandy said that the Citizenship Act is silent on the gender and sexuality of the spouse and it says that a person married to an Overseas Citizen of India with marriage registered and subsisting for two years should be eligible to apply as a spouse for an OCI card.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, argued that a “spouse” means either husband or wife and “marriage” is a term associated with heterosexual couples and there was no need to file a specific reply regarding the Citizenship Act.

He added that the petitioners have certain misconceptions about the Supreme Court’s ruling decriminalising consensual homosexuality act. He said, “The law as it stands…personal laws are settled and marriage which is contemplated to be is between biological man and a biological woman.”

“The issue here is whether marriage is permissible between homosexual couples. Your lordships have to see that. There is some misconception regarding Navtej Singh Johar case. It merely decriminalises consensual homosexual act. It does not talk about marriage,” Tushar Mehta contended.

Central government has opposed same-sex marriage on the ground that marriage in India is not just a union of two individuals but an institution between biological man and woman.
It also said that judicial interference will cause “complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws”.