5-judge Constitution Bench to decide if same-sex marriages can be legal

Final hearing to begin from April 18

March 13, 2023 04:11 pm | Updated 04:27 pm IST

The Supreme Court of India has issued notice to the Union government on two pleas filed by same-sex couples seeking to legalise same sex marriages in the country.

The Supreme Court of India has issued notice to the Union government on two pleas filed by same-sex couples seeking to legalise same sex marriages in the country. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud refers petitions to legally recognise same-sex marriages to a Constitution Bench of five judges of the Supreme Court.

The Court listed the case for final arguments on April 18.

The three-judge Bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, invokes Article 145(3) of the Constitution to refer the case to a Constitution Bench.

Article 145(3) mandates that cases involving substantial questions and interpretation of the Constitution should be heard by a Bench of at least five judges.

The hearing of the case would be livestreamed from April 18 in public interest.

Chief Justice Chandrachud said the case involves an “interplay” between constitutional rights of life, liberty, dignity, equal treatment of members of the LGBTQ+ community members and specific statutory enactments which considers only a married union between a biological man and woman.

The petitioners argued that the Court’s judgment in Navtej Singh Johar in 2018, while decriminalising homosexuality, also upheld the individual right to family and choice of partners.

In its affidavit, the Centre in the Supreme Court had frowned upon same-sex marriage while invoking the “accepted view” that a marriage between a biological man and woman is a “holy union, a sacrament and a sanskar” in India.

The institution of marriage has a sanctity attached to it and in major parts of the country, it is regarded as a sacrament, a holy union, and a sanskar. In our country, despite statutory recognition of the relationship of marriage between a biological man and a biological woman, marriage necessarily depends upon age-old customs, rituals, practices, cultural ethos and societal values,” the Centre said in a 56-page affidavit filed on March 12.

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