The Centre on Monday told the Delhi High Court that marriage only between a “biological man” and a “biological woman” was permissible under Indian laws, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was hearing a batch of petitions seeking recognition of same-sex marriage in India.

Representing the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the decriminalisation of homosexuality under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code would not be relevant in this case as the provision did not deal with marriage.

In September 2018, the Supreme Court had struck down provisions under Section 377 that criminalised homosexuality.

“There is some misconception regarding Navtej Singh Johar case,” Mehta told the Delhi High Court on Monday. “It merely decriminalises [homosexuality]... It does not talk about marriage.”

The court listed the petitions for final hearing on November 30.

The petitions

The petitions have been filed by individuals Abhijit Iyer Mitra, Vaibhav Jain, Kavita Arora, an Overseas Citizen of India card holder Joydeep Sengupta and his partner Russell Blaine Stephens.

They seek recognition of same-sex marriage under various laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, the Special Marriages Act and the Foreign Marriage Act.

In his plea, Mitra submitted that the language used in the Hindu Marriage Act is gender-neutral and it did not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage.

Arora has sought directions to the marriage officer of South East Delhi to solemnise her marriage under the Special Marriage Act. She has argued that the freedom to choose one’s partner guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution extended to same-sex marriage too.

Sengupta and Stephens contended that the Citizenship Act does not distinguish between heterosexual or same-sex persons married to an Overseas Citizen of India.

The Centre has consistently opposed the pleas in the Delhi High Court. In previous hearings of the petitions, it has argued that same-sex marriage was not part of “Indian culture or law” and that such relationships could not be compared to an “Indian family unit”.

In another hearing, Mehta had also argued that marriage certificates were not needed in hospitals and so “nobody was dying” for the lack of it.