A plea before the Delhi High Court on Friday sought that same-sex marriages should not be permitted under the Hindu Marriage Act as any intervention by a “secular state” in the matter will be an “intrusion into the religious right of Hindus”.
It also said that any “change in marriage procedures” must either be applicable to all citizens, “irrespective of faith”, or be restricted to only those forms of marriages that are considered a “civil contract” and not a “religious ritual”.
The plea comes at a time at least eight pending petitions before the High Court have sought legalisation of same-sex marriages in India under the Hindu Marriage Act, the Special Marriage Act and the Foreign Marriage Act. They have also sought a declaration that legal recognition of same-sex marriages is a fundamental right.
A division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Friday listed the intervention application moved by Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation — an NGO — for hearing along with the petitions seeking legalisation of same-sex marriages on February 3.
The NGO, in its application, said under the Hindu customs, two people of opposite sex can marry to give “sanity” to the family system and “purpose of legitimacy” to children.
“Any attempt to tinker with Hindu Marriage Act in a way that it affects the age-old “harmless” beliefs of Hindus will be a direct intrusion by secular state into the religious right of Hindus that is guaranteed by Constitution,” it added.
The NGO contended that the petition seeking recognition of same-sex marriage under HMA was not reasonable when at the same time it was not permitted under the marriage laws pertaining to other religions.
The petition said that judicial interference will cause “complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws”.
In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a previous judgment and ruled that consensual homosexual sex was not a criminal offence. However, same-sex marriages are yet to be recognised in the country.