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Delhi HC Issues Notice On Plea Seeking Recognition To Same Sex Marriages

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Union government on a plea seeking recognition of same-sex marriages under the Citizenship Act, 1955, Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, and the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

The bench has sought replies from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Consulate General of India, New York, and listed the matter for hearing on August 27 along with a batch of similar pleas, LiveLaw reported.

Who filed the petition? 

The petition was filed by Joydeep Sengupta, a Canadian citizen and an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder, and his partner Russell Blaine Stephens. It urged the court to declare that a spouse of foreign origin of an Indian citizen or an OCI cardholder is entitled to apply for registration as an OCI under the Citizenship Act regardless of the gender, sex or sexual orientation of the applicant spouse.

The plea said that since section 7A(1)(d) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, does not distinguish between heterosexual, same-sex or queer spouses, a person married to an OCI, whose marriage is registered and subsisting for two years, should be declared eligible to apply as a spouse for an OCI card.

The petitioners said they were expecting their first child in July 2021. Stephens said he wished to apply for the OCI status under the Citizenship Act as a spouse of an OCI cardholder. This would enable him to visit India, even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and spend time with Sengupta’s family, the report said.

The plea also asked to declare that the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954 violate Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India as they exclude same-sex marriages or queer marriages. It said that the Acts should recognise marriages between consenting adults irrespective of the gender, sex and sexual orientation of the parties.