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SC refers pleas seeking legal validation of same-sex marriages to five-judge constitution bench

Says the issue is of 'seminal importance'

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The Supreme Court, on Monday, referred the pleas seeking legal validation of same-sex marriages to a five-judge constitution bench for adjudication, saying the issue is of "seminal importance".

A bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the submissions on the issue involve an interplay between constitutional rights on the one hand and special legislative enactments, including the Special Marriage Act, on the other.

"We are of the considered view that it would be appropriate if the issues raised are resolved by a bench of five judges with due regard to Article 145 (3) of the Constitution. Thus, we direct the matter be placed before a five-judge Constitution bench," said the bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala.

The court posted the matter for arguments on April 18 and said the proceedings will be live-streamed as is done in case of hearings before the constitution benches.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, urged the court to not cut short the arguments of either side, saying the verdict will affect the society as a whole.

The Centre has opposed in the top court a batch of petitions seeking legal validation of same-sex marriages, claiming they will cause a complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws and accepted societal values.

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the government submitted that despite the decriminalisation of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the petitioners cannot claim a fundamental right for same-sex marriage to be recognised under the laws of the country.

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