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No Fundamental Right to Same-Sex Marriage: Supreme Court.



  May 02, 2024

No Fundamental Right to Same-Sex Marriage: Supreme Court.



Delivered on October 17, 2023,the verdict clarified that the Indian Constitution does not explicitly recognize the right to marry as a fundamental right for any person, whether heterosexual or non-heterosexual.

Case Background and Key Arguments

The case involved petitioners Abhay and Supriyo, who sought recognition of marriage equality. The contention was whether the right to marry should be considered a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution, given the progression of judicial decisions that have broadly interpreted personal freedoms.

Judicial Precedents and Developments

Prior to this decision, the Supreme Court had developed a progressive stance on related issues:

Lata Singh v Union of India (2006): The court upheld the right to choose one's spouse and noted that the law does not prohibit inter-caste or inter-religious marriages.

Justice KS Puttaswamy (retd) v. Union of India: This landmark judgment recognized privacy as a fundamental right, which includes personal choices concerning marriage under the ambit of personal dignity and autonomy.

Shakti Vahini v. Union of India and Shafin Jahan v. K.M. Asokan: These cases affirmed the freedom to choose a life partner as a part of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India: While decriminalizing homosexuality, the court emphasized the importance of personal choice and privacy but did not extend these rights explicitly to marriage.

Latest Position and Court's Reasoning

The Supreme Court, in Supriyo Chakraborty v Union of India, made a clear distinction between the right to choose a partner and the right to marry. The court stated that previous judgments had addressed the former, implying that while individuals have the freedom to choose whom they live with, this does not necessarily translate into a fundamental right to marry. This decision marks a pivotal clarification in Indian jurisprudence, as it refrains from extending the interpretation of fundamental rights to include marriage explicitly, despite recognizing broad personal freedoms related to partnership and cohabitation.

International Context

The court's decision also stands out for its selective engagement with international norms. Although India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which recognize the right to marry as a human right, the Supreme Court chose not to base its decision on these international instruments.

In summary, the Supreme Court's ruling in Supriyo Chakraborty v Union of India provides a clear judicial stance that, within the Indian constitutional framework, the right to marry is not recognized as a fundamental right. This reflects a conservative interpretation of the Constitution concerning marriage, despite more expansive readings in other areas of personal freedom and dignity.


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