New Delhi: Marriage is an institution that has to be regulated by certain laws enacted by parliament which reflects the will of the people, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Tuesday, days after the government opposed in the Supreme Court legal validation of same-sex marriage.
‘The only issue with the government is marriage is an institution, it has sanctity and it must be backed by law which takes into account our traditions, our ethos, our heritage — There are so many things in our country’, he said at the Lokmat National Conclave. He said as a government, ‘we are not opposed to any kind of activities done by anybody as a citizen. As a citizen, as long as you follow the law of the land, you are free to do whatever you choose to do’.
A person of any sex can also choose to lead a particular life which is suitable to him or her, he observed. ‘But when you talk about marriage, marriage is an institution. Marital institutions are guided by different specific laws … When it comes to institutions, it has to be regulated by certain laws. The law must be enacted by Parliament of India. Because Parliament of India reflects the will of the people’, he said.
Courts, Mr Rijiju pointed out, can definitely interpret many things. The courts can also go into certain issues which require some clarity in terms of correct interpretation, he said, adding that ‘we have no issue on that’. India, the minister said, is not a country which emerged suddenly. It is an ancient country with rich cultural traditions and all customary practices. ‘So, that is why our position is very clear on that’, he said in response to a question on the issue of same-sex marriage.
The Centre has opposed in the Supreme Court a batch of pleas seeking legal validation of same-sex marriage, saying it would cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws and accepted societal values. 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, it said. In its affidavit, the Centre said the institution of marriage between two individuals of the same gender is neither recognised nor accepted in any uncodified personal laws or any codified statutory laws.
The state does not recognise non-heterosexual forms of marriages or unions or personal understandings of relationships between individuals in society but the same are not unlawful, it said. On Monday, the Supreme Court 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 DY 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.
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