Delhi: The High Court said on Tuesday it will hear on April 24 a batch of petitions to recognise same-sex marriage under various laws. A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad was informed by the parties that a similar issue is pending before the Supreme Court. Senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal, who appeared for one of the petitioners, urged the bench to give a date in the matter as a similar issue was coming up for hearing before the top court on January 6.
The central government counsel also informed the court about the petitions pending in the apex court seeking similar relief. On November 25, the Supreme Court had sought response from the central government on separate pleas by two gay couples seeking enforcement of their right to marry and a direction to the authorities to register their marriage under the Special Marriage Act.
Eight petitions by several same-sex couples seeking a declaration recognising their marriages under the Special Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, and the Foreign Marriage Act are pending before the high court. Petitioners Abhijit Iyer Mitra and others have contended that marriages between same-sex couples are not possible despite the apex court decriminalising consensual homosexual acts and therefore, they sought a declaration to recognise such marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act.
Supreme Court's five-judge Constitution bench, in a path-breaking unanimous judgement delivered on September 6, 2018, held consensual sex among adult homosexuals or heterosexuals in private space is not a crime while striking down a part of the British-era penal law which criminalised it on the ground that it violated the constitutional right to equality and dignity.
The high court had sought the Centre's stand on Iyer's petition in November 2020. The Centre has opposed same-sex marriage saying marriage in India is not just a union of two individuals but an institution between a biological man and woman and judicial interference will cause "complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws." It has also opposed a plea by some LGBTQ couples seeking live streaming of the court proceedings in the matter, saying it may may involve sharp ideological schisms.
Another plea before the high court, filed by two women seeking to get married under the Special Marriage Act, has challenged the provisions of the statute to the extent it does not provide for same-sex marriages.
Two men who got married in the US but were denied registration of marriage under the Foreign Marriage Act have also approached the high court.