Same-sex marriage: Delhi HC issues notice to Centre on Petition seeking legal recognition

The Petition was filed by Canadian Citizen Joydeep Sengupta, who holds an OCI (Overseas Citizenship for Indians), whose extended family lives in India, and his partner Russell Blaine Stephens, a US Citizen, with whom he got married in the United States in 2012. The Petitioner has asked to issue OCI to his partner Russell, stating that the Citizenship Act of 1955 does not differentiate between same-sex partners and heterosexual partners.

Source: Lee Jin-man/AP

According to Section 7A(1)(d) of the Citizenship Act of 1955, the Spouse of the person, irrespective of Gender, Sex, and Sexual Orientation, is duly eligible to receive an OCI card as the act does not contain any specifics concerning same-sex partners, queer partners, and heterosexual partners.

Joydeep Sengupta and Russell Blaine Stephens have met in New York in 2001 and "have been in a loving relationship for over 20 years." As per the Petition, they got married in New York on August 6, 2012, and are legally recognized as a married couple in the US, France, and Canada–where they lived and worked together for years together. They have mentioned that they expect their first child in July 2021 and are preparing for their new roles as parents.

Sengupta and his partner, who currently live in France, argued that Article 14, which guarantees equality of all citizens before the law, and Article 21, which guarantees protection of life and personal liberty, in the Constitution of India, are violated by excluding Same-sex marriages from the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and Foreign Marriage Act, 1969.

The countries where they lived and got married, France and the US, have recognized Same-sex marriage. The couple urged the court to halt the Consulate General of India in New York from declaring the Same-sex spouses of Overseas Citizens of India ineligible to apply for an OCI card.

"laws must recognise marriages between consenting adults irrespective of the gender, sex and sexual orientation of the parties.”

— Joydeep Sengupta and Russell Blaine Stephens, Petitioner

Advocate-Activist Karuna Nundy represented the Petitioners during the session. After hearing the Petition filed by the couple, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, and the Consulate General of India have been sought responses by the division bench headed by Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh and will take up the hearing of the Petition and related petitions on August 27, 2021.

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