The Centre on Monday opposed the urgent hearing of a batch of petitions in the Delhi High Court to recognise same-sex marriage in India, Bar and Bench reported. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the government was focusing only on “real urgent issues” amid the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You don’t a need marriage certificate for hospitals,” Mehta said. “Nobody is dying because they don’t have a marriage certificate.”
A bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Amit Bansal adjourned the hearing after hearing the submissions till July 6. The pleas sought to recognise same-sex marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, Special Marriage Act and Foreign Marriage Act.
During Monday’s proceedings, senior advocate Saurab Kirpal, representing one of the petitioners, told the court that the government was supposed to be neutral and the court had to determine the urgency of the subject matter.
Advocate Menaka Guruswamy also pressed for an urgent hearing, arguing that it affected the daily lives of lakhs of citizens. “We are left out in hospitals, medical treatment,” she said.
The solicitor general dismissed Guruswamy’s submissions and raised the matter of roster change before the bench. The judges then asked the Centre to seek clarification regarding the question of the roster.
Guruswamy said the petitions were sent by the chief justice’s bench to Endlaw and Bansal for hearing.
In February, the Centre told the Delhi High Court that in spite of decriminalisation of homosexuality under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, same-sex marriage was not a fundamental right in the country.
In an affidavit, the central government also submitted that a same-sex couple living together as partners and having a sexual relationship was not comparable with an “Indian family unit”.
The Union government said that a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution was subject to procedure established by the law, and same-sex marriages were “neither recognised nor accepted in any uncodified personal laws or any codified statutory laws”.
In a same-sex marriage, it was not possible or feasible to term one of the partners as “husband” and the other as “wife” and so, “the statutory scheme of many statutory enactments will become otiose”, the government stated.