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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued a notice in a couple of writ petitions seeking marriage equality for same-sex couples in India.

The bench comprising of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon heard a petition filed by one Dr. Kavita Arora, who has been living with her partner Ankita Khanna for 8 years and sought a direction to the Marriage Officer, South East Delhi, to solemnize their marriage under the Special Marriage Act. The petitioners contended that the fundamental right to choose one’s own partner for marriage under Article 21 of the Constitution extends to same-sex couples as well.

“The law bestows myriad legal rights and protections in matters of succession, taxation, insurance, maintenance, pension, health, and marital privileges that are unavailable to unmarried couples. The Petitioners are deprived of all the legal rights and social benefits that flow from the institution of marriage as the SMA excludes same-sex couples,” read the plea.

“The purpose of marriage is not just to procreate. People get married for emotional support too and the petitioners today are demanding their basic rights – to be able to get insurance, a loan, buy a house together – things that cannot be done without marriage,” argued senior advocate Maneka Guruswamy representing the petitioners.

While advocate Rajkumar Yadav, one of the counsels for the Centre, submitted that this situation has not arisen in the 5,000 years of Sanatan Dharma, Justice Menon stated that “We may shed our inhibitions. The laws are gender-neutral. Please try to interpret the law for the citizens of Sanatan Dharma in the country. This is not adversarial litigation. This is for the right of every citizen of the country.”

Subsequently, the bench went on to issue a notice to the Centre and Delhi government and posted the matter for further hearing on 8th January 2021.

Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre responded as to “Our culture and law doesn’t recognize the concept of same-sex marriages,” during the Delhi High Court hearing in a petition filed by the defense analyst Abhijit Iyer Mitra.

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