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Supreme Court Reserves Verdict On Petitions Seeking Legal Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriages

The bench has been hearing a clutch of petitions filed by 18 LGBTQIA++ couples for marriage equality rights

Supreme Court reserves judgment in same-sex marriage petitions
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After 10 days of arguments, the five-judge Constitution bench of Supreme Court reserves verdict on batch of pleas seeking legal validation for same-sex marriage.

The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul, S R Bhat, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha, heard the rejoinder arguments advanced by senior advocates, including A M Singhvi, Raju Ramachandran, K V Viswanathan, Anand Grover and Saurabh Kirpal, who represented the petitioners.

The hearing went on for three weeks with several arguments regarding marriage being a bouquet of rights and gender being far more complex in a marriage than between a cis-gendered heterosexual man with a cis-gendered heterosexual woman. 

Last week, the Centre told the top court it will constitute a committee headed by the cabinet secretary to examine administrative steps that could be taken for addressing "genuine humane concerns" of same-sex couples without going into the issue of legalising their marriage.

The Centre's submission came pursuant to the Supreme Court asking it on April 27 whether social welfare benefits like opening joint bank accounts, nominating life partner in provident funds, gratuity and pension schemes can be granted to same-sex couples without going into the issue of legal sanction to their marriage.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, had told the bench on the previous day of the hearing, May 3, that there were discussions at the previous hearing about some genuine humane concerns of such couples and whether something can be done to address those administratively.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the Centre told the apex court that any constitutional declaration made by it on pleas seeking legal validation for same-sex marriage may not be a "correct course of action" as the court will not be able to foresee, envisage, comprehend and deal with its fallout. The bench had observed that everyone was presuming that the declaration would be in the form of a writ.

"We are all presuming that the declaration will be in the form of a writ that grant this or grant that. This is what we are accustomed to. What I was hinting was, as a constitutional court, we recognise only a state of affairs and draw the limit there...," Justice Bhat had said. 

The Centre had also told the court that it had received responses from seven states on the issue of same-sex marriage and the governments of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Assam had opposed the petitioners' contention seeking legal validation for such wedlock.

(With inputs from PTI)

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