New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Centre to find ways to give same-sex couples basic social benefits, like joint bank accounts or nominating a partner in insurance policies, even without legal recognition of their marital status.
The top court orally agreed to the Centre’s contention that legal sanction for same-sex marriage is under Parliament’s domain.
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, contended if the plea for legal sanctity to such couples is accepted, someone may come to court against incest saying the state had no business to intervene if two adults decided to have a sexual relationship in prohibited degrees.
The top court asked Centre to come back on May 3, with its response on social benefits that same sex couples could be granted even without legal recognition of their marital status.
“We take your point that if we enter this arena…you have made a very powerful argument and this is for the Parliament, this will be an arena of the legislature… So, now what,” the bench asked Mehta, adding what the government wants to do with cohabited relations.
“The government may consider tackling some of the issues they (LGBTQIA) are facing without granting the legal recognition,” the CJI said, and fixed the next date of hearing as on May 3.
The Top Court asked the Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, tha you can discuss with appropriate authority and get back till then.
The bench also sought to know how a sense of security and social welfare is made and also how it can be ensured that such relations are not ostracised in the society.
Hearing a batch of petitions by same sex couples for marriage equality, a five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said that when the court says recognition, it need not be recognition as marriage, it may mean recognition which entitles the couple to certain benefits, and the association of two people need not be equated to marriage.
The bench told Mehta that once you say that right to cohabit is a fundamental right, then it is the obligation of the state that all social impact of the cohabitation has a legal recognition, and court is not going into marriage at all.
The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha, said the court wants some element of a broad sense of coalition and the court is also conscious about the fact that there is so much that representative democracy should also achieve in the country.
There will be social requirements such as banking, insurance, admissions etc where the Centre will have to do something, the bench added.
Mehta said the government may consider tackling some of the issues, same sex couples are facing without granting the legal recognition.
Earlier, during the day, Mehta asked the court to visualise a situation in which five-years down the line, a person may say that he is attracted to those persons who are mentioned in the degree of prohibited relationship.