A petition has been filed with the Delhi high court by two same-sex couples to legalise their marriages. The petitioners have called the current provisions of marriage under the Indian law detrimental and a violation of their constitutional rights.
Justice Navin Chawla, who heard the petition on Thursday, directed it to be listed before the Chief Justice DN Patel of the high court. The Chief Justice is already hearing a petition seeking recognition of same sex unions under the 1955 Hindu Marriage Act.
The two petitioners were represented by senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy and advocates Arundhati Katju, Govind Manoharan and Surabhi Dhar. Guruswamy and Katju were among the lawyers who had argued against the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community. The Supreme Court had subsequently decriminilised homosexuality, part of the 158-year-old colonial law under Section 377 in 2018. The duo had also come out as a couple back then, thus making the win a more personal one apart from professional.
Kavita Arora, 47 and Ankita Khanna, 36, two mental health doctors have filed the first petition The duo said they have been living together as a couple for the past eight years, were in love and as such want to spend their lives together after marrying, something they are unable to do because of the existing marriage rules as they are both women.
The petition said that the two “are like any other couple you might meet, except they are both women."
Vaibhav Jain, an Indian citizen, and his partner Parag Vijay Mehta, who is an overseas citizen of India were the second set of petitioners. The duo had gotten married in the US in 2017 but a Indian consulate denied to register their marriage under the 1969 Foreign Marriage Act. The couple said that due to their marriage being non-recognised under Indian laws, they were unable to travel to India as a married couple.
The duo had been in a relationships since 2012.
The two women, in their petition have also said that they have faced immense struggles in doing some very common things like opening a joint bank account, buying family health insurance, or securing address proof, something which is very easily accessible for a heterosexual couple.
In a petition that was filed on September 8 and taken up by the Delhi High Court, it had pleaded that the 1995 Hindu Marriage Act allowed a union between any “two Hindus without discriminating between homosexuals and heterosexuals".
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who had appeared for the Centre however had argued that the Act did not allow or recognise the idea of same-sex marriages as the law only states the marriage to be between a “man and wife."
Mehta however, had clarified that this was his own analysis of the Act and was not instructed as such by the government.
The bench, comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan had said “changes are happening across the world" and asked the Centre to keep an open mind.