New Delhi, April 19
The Supreme Court on Wednesday contested the Centre’s contention that same-sex relationship is an urban-elitist concept, saying the government had no data to back its claim.
“It may be more urban in its manifestations because more people in urban areas are coming out of the closethellip; Anyway, no data is forthcoming from the government to indicate that this is urban. No data at all,” said a five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud while hearing petitions seeking legal recognition for same-sex marriages.
“When you say that this is an innate characteristic, then it’s also an argument in response to the (Centre’s) contention that this is an elitist or urban or it has a certain class bias. When something is innate, it cannot have the class bias,” the Bench said, agreeing with the submissions of senior advocate AM Singhvi, who pointed out the Centre’s averments were not supported by any survey or data.
Singhvi, representing one of the petitioners, said those seeking marriage were seeking it for community and social validation of their relationship as it provided a sense of security to couples apart from a greater financial support and security. Marital status by itself was a source of dignity, fulfilment and self-respect, he added.
On the second day of hearing, the Bench — which also included Justice SK Kaul, Justice SR Bhat, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice PS Narasimha — said the state could not discriminate against an individual on the basis of sexual characteristics over which the person had no control.
“It is very simple, the state cannot discriminate against an individual on the basis of a characteristic over which the person has no control,” the Bench noted.
In an affidavit filed ahead of the commencement of hearing on April 18, the Centre had told the top court that same-sex marriage was an urban elitist concept far removed from social ethos of India and extending the concept of marriage beyond heterosexual union would amount to creating a new social institution.
Maintaining that it was essentially a legislative function which the courts should refrain from deciding, the Centre had said Parliament was “presumed to know what is in the best interest of the people and this is doubly so in the case of Personal Law”.
Centre again urges SC to hear states, UTs
A day after the SC refused to make states/UTs parties to proceedings on pleas for legal recognition of same-sex marriages, the Centre on Wednesday said it had started consultations with the states. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the SC Bench he would like to repeat his request to make all states/UTs parties to the case. His submission, however, didn’t find favour with the Bench.