The Delhi High Court on Monday sent to the Supreme Court a batch of petitions seeking to recognise same-sex marriages under various laws.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad passed the order after it was informed by the counsel appearing in the matter that the Supreme Court has transferred to itself all petitions pending in various high courts involving the same issue. In light of the apex court's January 6 order, the high court bench directed its registry to transfer the case files immediately to the Supreme Court.
The high court has been hearing a batch of petitions filed by several same-sex couples seeking a declaration to recognise their marriages under the Special Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act, and the Foreign Marriage Act. Eight petitions have been filed in the high court on the issue.
The top court's five-judge Constitution bench, in a path-breaking unanimous judgement delivered on September 6, 2018, had held that consensual sex among adult homosexuals or heterosexuals in private spaces is not a crime and struck down a part of a British-era penal law which had criminalised it on the grounds that it violated the constitutional right to equality and dignity.
Petitioner Abhijit Iyer Mitra and three others have contended that marriages between same-sex couples are not possible despite the apex court decriminalising consensual homosexual acts and therefore, they sought a declaration to recognise such marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act.
Another plea was filed by two women seeking to get married under the Special Marriage Act and challenging provisions of the statute to the extent it does not provide for same-sex marriages. The other was filed by two men who got married in the US but were denied registration of marriage under the Foreign Marriage Act.
The Centre has opposed same-sex marriage, saying marriage in India is not just a union of two individuals but an institution between a biological man and a woman, and judicial interference will cause "complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws".