The Central government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that seven states have responded on the issue of same-sex marriage and Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam have opposed the petitioners’ contention seeking legal sanction for such marriages.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, contended before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Sikkim, have said the issue needed a “very intense and expansive debate” and these state governments cannot submit their responses immediately.
The Centre had, in an affidavit filed in the apex court, said it had issued a letter on April 18 to all states inviting comments and views on the “seminal issue” raised in these petitions.
Mehta submitted before the bench – also comprising Justices S.K. Kaul, S.R. Bhat, Hima Kohli, and P.S.Narasimha — that Rajasthan takes the position that “we have examined it and we are opposed to the position which the petitioners are taking”.
A communication from the Deputy Secretary, Law, of Manipur to the Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Union Ministry of Law and Justice, said “the views/ comments of the state government on this matter will require detailed assessment on the existing social customs, practices, values, rules, etc., that may be prevalent in different sections of the society. Therefore, the state government would like to seek more time for proper examination for furnishing the views/comments on the matter”.
The Andhra Pradesh government said it has consulted the heads of various religions in the state on same-sex marriage. “After considering the above views, I am to inform that the state of Andhra Pradesh is against the same sex marriage and/or persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ community,” said the Special Chief Secretary.
The Uttar Pradesh government said: “The state government cannot formulate its comprehensive response without wide consultation with all sections of the society. Hence, it would not be possible for the state government to provide any comprehensive response in such a short period of time,” and sought additional time to prepare a proper response.
Maharashtra said the state government would have to hold detailed and meaningful consultations with a wide cross section of society. “It is submitted that the issue involved in the present batch of petitions is rather sensitive and would potentially affect a cross section of the society in the state of Maharashtra cutting through various religious sections.. it is submitted that in the absence of complete material including the pleadings of various parties before the Supreme Court of India, Maharashtra would not be in a position to come up with a comprehensive response, touching on all the aspects of the matter at such short notice,” said the Joint Secretary in communication to the Secretary, Ministry of Law.
Assam has told the Union Law Ministry that the subject invokes new interpretations and challenges the validity of laws concerning marriage and personal laws enforced in the state with diverse cultures, creeds, customs, and religions prevalent in the state.
“Further, it would be prudent to maintain that legislation is the prerogative of legislature, at Centre and in states, and the courts may like to view the matter in accordance with core principles of our democratic structure. The Legislature reflects the collective wisdom of the nation and its citizens, and it solely possesses the power to enact a law governing human relationships,” the Assam government has said.
The state government said marriage, divorce and ancillary subjects fall under entry 5 of Concurrent list of the Constitution and hence, it is also in the domain of the state legislature in a manner that it is in the domain of Parliament.
“On the basis of the above, the state government would like to oppose the views in the matter as laid out by petitioners… before the Supreme Court and also requests for providing reasonable time and opportunity to place its views further,” the Assam government said.
The Sikkim government said it is actively considering the matter and is constituting a committee to conduct an in-depth study to assess the ramifications of same-sex marriages on social customs, practices, values and norms after due consultation with all the stakeholders.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)