The Supreme Court’s Misconception Regarding the Right to Marry
Table of Contents
Recognizing the Flaws in the Supreme Court’s Recent Verdict
In a recent landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of India maintained that there exists no fundamental right to marry in the country. This decision, as pronounced in the case of Supriyo Chakraborty, has significant implications for the LGBTQI communities and their struggle for equal rights.
Contextualizing the Issue
The legal journey leading up to this ruling is crucial in understanding the background of the case. Starting with the Delhi High Court’s pivotal decision in the Naz Foundation case in 2009, the subsequent vacillation in stance, including the 2013 decision in Suresh Kumar Koushal and the eventual validation in Navtej Singh Johar in 2018, has shaped the landscape of LGBTQI rights in India.
Overcoming Discrimination and Establishing Rights
The consequences of criminalizing non-heterosexual relationships under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code were dire, leading to systemic harassment, blackmail, and violence against the LGBTQI communities. The struggle for the right to identify one’s gender, as established in the NALSA verdict, was a step forward in recognizing individual autonomy and dignity.
The Quest for Marriage Equality
While the Court rightly emphasized the need to shield same-sex couples from harassment, the failure to recognize their right to marry perpetuates societal stigmatization. Marriage, beyond its legal implications, serves as a vital social sanction, legitimizing relationships and providing a myriad of practical benefits, including inheritance rights, adoption, and medical decision-making authority.
Dissecting the Judgment and Human Rights Principles
Critics argue that the Court overlooked the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which India is a signatory. Article 16 of the UDHR explicitly affirms the right to marry without discrimination. The Indian judicial system has often relied on the UDHR to interpret the Constitution, as seen in various precedents dealing with human dignity and other fundamental rights.
Contradictions and Ironies in the Verdict
While the Court’s recognition of marriages involving transgender persons is commendable, the refusal to extend the same recognition to same-sex couples presents an inconsistency. By acknowledging the right to self-identified gender but not sexual orientation, the judgment perpetuates the view of same-sex couples as inferior and ineligible for marriage.
The Need for Corrective Measures and Continuing the Fight
It is imperative for the Court to reconsider its stance on the fundamental right to marry, rectifying this injustice against the LGBTQI communities. The struggle for equality and recognition is ongoing, and it is vital for advocates to persist in their efforts, fueled by the resilience that secured a victory in the Navtej Singh Johar case.
Source: The Hindu