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SC reserves judgment on pleas seeking sanction for same sex marriage

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking legal sanction for same-sex marriage.

After hearing the matter for 10 days, a five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices S.K. Kaul, S.R. Bhat, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha, reserved its judgment.

On Thursday, the top court heard the rejoinder arguments advanced by senior advocates, A.M. Singhvi, Raju Ramachandran, K.V. Viswanathan, Anand Grover and Saurabh Kirpal, who represented the petitioners.

The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the court’s hinting at a possibility of declaration being made something less than marriage but something more than the present status may not be the correct course of action.

It stressed that the legislature has the wherewithal to regulate the fallout and the court will not be able to foresee, envisage, comprehend, and thereafter deal with the fallout of that declaration.

The apex court said that form, content and contours of the declaration is important, “we are all presuming that declaration will be in the form of writ that grant this or grant that”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, had submitted that the bench indicated possibility of declaration being made something less than marriage but something more than the present status. “Having examined that, why my lord that may not be the correct course of action… your lordships’ declaration would be a law within the meaning of Article 141, binding all and not all just courts, binding the whole nation,” it said.

On Tuesday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, assisting the court, in a debate over the issue of same-sex marriage, countered the petitioners’ side argument that since Parliament would do nothing about their right to marry, the apex court must issue a constitutional declaration to force it to enact a law giving legal sanction to their marriages.

“I say that it is a very dangerous route to take,” he had said.

The bench observed that it may not be correct to say the apex court cannot issue a constitutional declaration, noting that the Parliament, in the past, did follow up on constitutional declarations by making laws.

The Central government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that seven states have responded on the issue of same-sex marriage and Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam have opposed the petitioners’ contention seeking legal sanction for such marriages.

Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Sikkim, have said the issue needed a “very intense and expansive debate” and these state governments cannot submit their responses immediately.

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