Chief Justice and Bench Address Special Marriage Act and Constitutional Implications

Chief Justice and Bench Address Special Marriage Act and Constitutional Implications
Chief Justice and Bench Address Special Marriage Act and Constitutional Implications
Chief Justice and Bench Address Special Marriage Act and Constitutional Implications
Chief Justice and Bench Address Special Marriage Act and Constitutional Implications

Chief Justice and Bench Address Special Marriage Act and Constitutional Implications

Chief Justice and Bench Address Special Marriage Act and Constitutional Implications

Chief Justice and Bench Address Special Marriage Act and Constitutional Implications

The Supreme Court of India, under the leadership of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, presided over a crucial hearing on the potential legalization of same-sex marriage. In anticipation of a long-awaited ruling on the matter, the five-judge bench, consisting of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha, emphasized that they were solely focused on assessing the legal aspects of the Special Marriage Act (SMA) and the Foreign Marriage Act.

Balancing Legal Aspects and Legislative Authority

During the hearing, Chief Justice Chandrachud warned that striking down the Special Marriage Act (SMA) would regress the country to the “pre-independence era.” The bench recognized the need to differentiate between considering the legal elements of the SMA and recognizing non-heterosexual marriages. Chief Justice Chandrachud noted that amending the SMA to permit same-sex marriage falls within the domain of Parliament and should not be the court’s prerogative. He stressed the importance of not overstepping into legislative matters.

Justice Kaul challenged the judgment of Justice Bhat, who asserted that the Special Marriage Act was primarily enacted to facilitate heterosexual marriages. While Justice Kaul acknowledged Article 14 violations in the SMA, he highlighted interpretative limitations when including homosexual unions within it. The Solicitor General’s concerns about potential cascading effects of modifying the Special Marriage Act were acknowledged.

Centre’s Opposition and Chief Justice’s Response

The Central Government has consistently opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage, contending that this issue falls under the purview of Parliament. They asserted that marriage is exclusively defined as a union between a man and a woman, and argued that those seeking same-sex marriage were limited to urban elites.

However, Chief Justice Chandrachud rebuked this position, emphasizing that “queer is a natural phenomenon known for ages” and is neither limited to urban nor elitist contexts. He underscored the importance of not denying anyone the right to marry based on their sexual orientation.

The Chief Justice also urged the government to continue its work with the committee established to address the practical requirements of same-sex couples, emphasizing the need to move forward and address this vital issue. The Supreme Court’s forthcoming ruling on same-sex marriage is highly anticipated and carries significant implications for the legal recognition of diverse relationships in India.

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