The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a batch of pleas seeking legal validation for same-sex marriages on Monday.
According to Monday’s (March 13) cause list uploaded on the apex court’s website, the pleas are listed for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala.
The apex court had, on January 6, clubbed and transferred to itself all such petitions pending before different high courts, including the Delhi High Court.
It had said the counsel appearing for the Centre and advocate Arundhati Katju, representing the petitioners, shall together prepare a common compilation of the written submissions, documents and precedents on which reliance would be placed during the course of the hearing.
“Soft copies of the compilations shall be exchanged between the parties and shall be made available to the court. List the petition along with connected petitions and transferred cases on March 13, 2023 for directions,” the bench had said in its January 6 order.
The counsel for multiple petitioners had told the bench that they want the apex court to transfer all the cases to itself for an authoritative pronouncement on the issue and that the Centre can file its response in the top court.
On January 3, the apex court had said it would hear on January 6 the pleas seeking a transfer of petitions for recognition of same-sex marriages pending before the high courts to the top court.
On December 14 last year, the apex court had sought the Centre’s response to two pleas seeking a transfer of the petitions pending in the Delhi High Court for directions to recognise same-sex marriages to itself.
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Prior to that, on November 25 last year, the apex court had sought the Centre’s response to separate pleas moved by two gay couples seeking enforcement of their right to marry and a direction to the authorities concerned to register their marriages under the Special Marriage Act.
A bench headed by CJI Chandrachud, who was also part of the Constitution bench that in 2018 decriminalised consensual gay sex, issued a notice to the Centre in November last year, besides seeking Attorney General R Venkataramani’s assistance in dealing with the pleas.
The top court’s five-judge Constitution bench, in a path-breaking unanimous verdict delivered on September 6, 2018, held that consensual sex among adult homosexuals or heterosexuals in a private space is not a crime while striking down a part of the British-era penal law that criminalised it on the ground that it violated the constitutional right to equality and dignity.
The petitions on which the top court issued the notice in November last year have sought a direction that the right to marry a person of one’s choice be extended to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people as part of their fundamental right.
One of the petitions has sought an interpretation of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in a gender-neutral manner where a person is not discriminated against due to his sexual orientation.
The apex court, in its 2018 judgment, held that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalised consensual gay sex was “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary”.
It had said the 158-year-old law had become an “odious weapon” to harass the LGBT community by subjecting its members to discrimination and unequal treatment.