Same-sex marriage case: Supreme Court transfers all petitions before High Courts to itself

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The Supreme Court on Friday transferred all the petitions seeking the extension of the right to marry to members of the LGBTQIA+ community, pending before various High Courts, to itself.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala directed,

“Since several batches of petitions are pending before Delhi, Kerala and Gujarat High Courts involving the same question, we are of the view that they should be transferred and decided by this Court. We direct that all writ petitions shall stand transferred to this Court.”

The Court also made it clear that any petitioner who cannot engage a counsel can appear virtually and advance their submissions.

The matter will be heard on March 13, after written submissions and counters are filed by all parties. Advocate Arundhati Katju was appointed as the nodal counsel for the petitioners, whereas Advocate Kanu Agrawal will be the nodal counsel for the Central government.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi suggested that matters pending before the High Courts should be transferred to the apex court and heard together.

Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul pointed out that notice was issued in the petitions filed to transfer all such matters to the Supreme Court.

CJI Chandrachud said at this point,

“Are all matters collated earlier governed by transfers here? If those petitioners are not here, can we transfer them here.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then suggested,

“Matter was ripe for hearing before Delhi High Court. If hearing is awaited then you can have benefit of Delhi High Court judgment.”

However, the CJI said,

“We will transfer all petitions before the High Courts (to the Supreme Court). Any petitioner who wants to appear virtually can appear virtually make any point, we will hear them.”

The Court was hearing a batch of petitions, one of which was filed by Supriyo Chakraborty and Abhay Dang, two gay men living in Hyderabad seeking that the right to marry a person of one’s choice should extend to LGBTQIA+ citizens as well.

Supriyo and Abhay have been a couple for almost 10 years. They both contracted COVID-19 during the second wave of the pandemic and when they recovered, they decided to have a wedding-cum-commitment ceremony to celebrate the ninth anniversary of their relationship.

However, despite the same, they do not enjoy the rights of a married couple, the plea pointed out.

It was also contended that the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy case, held that LGBTQIA+ persons enjoy the right to equality, dignity and privacy guaranteed by the Constitution on the same footing as all other citizens.

Another petition filed by gay couple Parth Phiroze Mehrotra and Uday Raj said that non-recognition of same-sex marriages is violative of the right to quality under Article 14 and the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Subsequently, more petitions were filed on the issue including transfer petitions to transfer cases from High Courts to the top court.

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