Continuing his opposition to same-sex marriage, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Union government, claimed that the word 'spouse' meant husband and wife. Mehta added that there was no purpose to filing a specific reply in regards to Citizenship Act to recognise same-sex marriage as the term 'marriage' is a term associated with heterosexual couples.
The Delhi High Court has listed a number of pleas in pursuit of the recognition and registration of same-sex marriages under the law for final hearing on 30 November, reported Live Law.
The bench was hearing petitions filed by Abhijit Iyer Mitra, Vaibhav Jain, Dr Kavita Arora, an Overseas Citizenship of India card holder Joydeep Sengupta, and his partner Russell Blaine Stephens.
Advocate Karuna Nandy, representing Sengputa and Russell, stated that the couple got married in New York and the laws applicable in their case are: Citizenship Act, 1995; Foreign Marriage Act, 1969; and the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
Nandy noted that Section 74(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 does not discriminate between heterosexual, same-sex, or queer spouses.
It provides that a 'person' married to an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), whose marriage is registered and has continued for two years, should be declared eligible to apply as a spouse for an OCI card, according to the Live Law report.
"According to us, it's a very straightforward issue. The Citizenship Act is silent on gender of couple... the onus on State is only to register. So if they (Centre) don't want to file a reply, we don't have an objection," she said, in the court.
What Was the Government's Response?
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta reiterated the government's stand, stating that 'marriage' is a term associated with heterosexual couples.
"The issue here is whether marriage is permissible between homosexual couples. Your Lordships have to decide that. There is some misconception regarding Navtej Singh Johar case. It merely decriminalizes... It does not talk about marriage."Solictor General of India Tushar Mehta
Senior Advocate Saurabh Kirpal opposed this by saying that while the case does not expressly allow same-sex marriages, the conclusion is in favour of recognising it.
"That is how constitutional matters are interpreted," he added.
According to Live Law, the Union government had filed an affidavit before opposing the pleas. It had said, "There is a legitimate state interest in limiting the recognition of marriage to persons of opposite sex only."
The affidavit further stated that the acceptance of marriage between two individuals of the same gender is neither recognised nor accepted in any uncodified personal laws or in any codified statutory laws.
It also opposed the urgent filing of pleas saying, "You don't need marriage certificates for hospitals, nobody is dying because they don't have marriage certificate."
(With inputs from Live Law.)