THE DELHI High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Centre in connection with a PIL seeking recognition of same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act. The court has clubbed the case with the petitions of two couples seeking registration and legalisation of their marriages under the Special Marriage Act and the Foreign Marriage Act.
The PIL seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act has been filed by Abhjit Iyer Mitra, Gopi Shankar M, Giti Thadani and G Oorvasi. Advocate Raghav Awasthi, who appeared for the petitioners before the court of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon, argued that the language used in the HMA is gender neutral as it does not say the marriage has to take place between a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’.
Their plea also argues that same-sex couples are being denied the registration of marriage under the Act in the absence of any declaration from court or authority, and that the same was happening despite the apex court decriminilasing homosexuality. It has been submitted that it is a denial of both right to equality and right to life as the benefits available to heterosexual couples are not available to homosexual couples.
The Centre in September had opposed the petition and submitted that “our law, legal system, society, our values” do not recognise the marriage of same-sex couples. Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta had submitted that allowing the prayer would run contrary to statutory provisions already in place. “Our law, legal system, society, our values do not recognise the marriage – which is a sacrament – between same-sex couple,” he had said, adding, one has to be a man and other a woman to fall or not fall within degrees of prohibited relationship under the Act.
The bench tagged has the petition with two other pleas — one filed by two women seeking to get married under the SMA and challenging provisions of the statute to the extent it does not provide for same sex marriages, and the other by two men who got married in the US but were denied registration of their marriage under the Foreign Marriage Act (FMA). All three petitions are now listed together for hearing on January 8, 2021.
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