SC to deliver verdict on pleas seeking same-sex marriage validity today

Supreme Court of India. [File Photo]

New Delhi: The long-awaited decision by the Supreme Court on the validation of same-sex marriage is expected to be announced this Tuesday.

The five-judge constitution bench, led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, had reserved its verdict on May 11 following an extensive 10-day hearing. Other members of the bench include Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli, and P S Narasimha.

According to sources, the judgment will be published on the apex court’s website once it is delivered. During the arguments, the Government of India (GoI) expressed its concerns that any constitutional declaration regarding same-sex marriage might not be the most appropriate course of action, as the full consequences may not be foreseen and managed by the court.

The GoI also revealed that seven states had responded to the issue, with the governments of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam opposing the petitioners’ stance on legalizing same-sex marriage. The apex court had initiated the hearings on April 18. During the May 11 hearing, the bench acknowledged its limitations in predicting Parliament’s response to any declaration on same-sex unions, citing past cases such as the instant triple talaq case.

While emphasizing that it wouldn’t interfere with personal laws governing marriages, the bench indicated that the concept of a man and a woman, as referenced in the Special Marriage Act, is not solely determined by biological characteristics.

Some petitioners urged the court to leverage its authority and influence to encourage societal acceptance of same-sex unions, allowing LGBTQIA++ individuals to lead dignified lives similar to heterosexuals.

LGBTQIA++ represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit, asexual, and ally persons. On May 3, the Centre informed the court that it would establish a committee led by the cabinet secretary to assess administrative measures for addressing the genuine concerns of same-sex couples, without delving into the legalization of their marriage.

This submission came following the apex court’s query on whether social welfare benefits could be extended to same-sex couples without the need for legalizing their marriage, such as joint bank accounts, nomination in provident funds, and pension schemes.

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