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5-judge Constitution Bench to decide fate of same-sex marriages from April 18, proceedings to be live-streamed: Supreme Court

A five-judge Constitution bench will decide upon legalizing same-sex marriages in India on April 18 and proceedings of the hearing will be streamed live as the issue of “seminal importance”, the Supreme Court said on Monday

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A five-judge Constitution bench will decide upon legalizing same-sex marriages in India on April 18 and proceedings of the hearing will be streamed live as the issue of “seminal importance”, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala, which today heard the combined pleas seeking the legalization of the gay marriages under the Special Marriage Act in the country said that a constitution bench of five judges would on April 18 further decide the fate of such matrimonies.

Noting that the issue was of “seminal importance” and any decision on the same would have a huge impact on the Indian society and will impact entire social fabric as a whole, the apex court noted Article 145(3) mandates that such a matter of law, which requires interpreting the constitution, must be decided by a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

The Centre has opposed the pleas arguing that gay marriages are incompatible with the “Indian family unit” consisting of a husband, a wife and their children which inevitably presupposes a biological man as a ‘husband’, a biological woman as a ‘wife’ and the children born out of the wedlock reared by the biological man as father and the biological woman as mother.

The BJP-led central government, in its affidavit filed before the top court, said that the petitioners cannot claim a fundamental right for same-sex marriage to be recognised under Indian laws despite consensual gay being decriminalized in the Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 judgement.

The government further argued that legalizing gay marriages would wreck the delicate balance between personal laws and accepted societal values in the country. Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, Monday, noted that the institution of marriage is a matter of policy, even though doesn’t disturb personal freedom and activities of individuals.

Representing the Centre, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta argued that giving legal status to gay marriages would trigger legal issues as marriage is a contract between a biological male and biological female in every major religion, not just among Hindus, but also in Islam.

The Centre’s council raised the legal status of adoption by a gay couple saying that the Parliament will have to examine will of the people and child’s and decide whether it can be raised in a such environment.

He said that the Parliament will have to factor in societal ethos while taking such a decision.

However, CJI Chandrachud retorted that the adopted child of a gay or lesbian couple does not have to be a gay or lesbian solicitor.

On January 6, the apex court had transferred and clubbed to itself, all such pleas pending in different high courts, including the Delhi High Court.

In its January 6 order, it had asked Advocate Arundhati Katju—representing the petitioners—and the Central government’s counsel, to prepare together a common compilation of the written submissions, documents and precedents on which reliance would be placed during the course of the hearing.

The petitioners’ counsel had requested the Supreme Court bench to transfer all such cases itself for an authoritative pronouncement on the issue and that the Centre can file its response in the top court.

Earlier, on January 3, the Supreme Court had said it would hear on January 6 the pleas seeking a transfer of petitions for recognition of same-sex marriages pending before the high courts to the top court.

The Supreme Court had in December last year sought the Centre’s response to two pleas seeking a transfer of the petitions pending in the Delhi High Court for directions to recognize same-sex marriages to itself.

Earlier on November 25 last year, the top court had sought the Centre’s response to separate pleas moved by two gay couples seeking enforcement of their right to marry and a direction to the authorities concerned to register their marriages under the Special Marriage Act.

A bench headed by CJI Chandrachud, who was also part of the Constitution bench that decriminalised consensual gay sex in its 2018 landmark judgement, issued a notice to the Centre in November last year, besides seeking Attorney General R Venkataramani’s assistance in dealing with the pleas.

The petitions have sought a direction that the right to marry a person of one’s choice be extended to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people as part of their fundamental right. One petition seeks a reinterpretation of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in a gender-neutral manner where a person is not discriminated against due to his sexual orientation.

On September 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, issued a landmark judgement wherein it decriminalized consensual gay sex among adults. It struck down a part of the British-era penal law under Article 377, on grounds that it violated the constitutional right to equality and dignity.

In its pathbreaking judgement, the apex court ruled that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalised consensual gay sex was “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary”. The top court had said that the 158-year-old law had become an “odious weapon” to harass the LGBTQ community by subjecting its members to discrimination and unequal treatment.

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Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma says only 8 people applied for citizenship under CAA

Addressing a press conference at the Lok Sewa Bhawan in Guwahati, Sarma said that out of these applicants, only two have attended interviews with relevant authorities.

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Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that only eight people have applied for citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) from the state so far.

Addressing a press conference at the Lok Sewa Bhawan in Guwahati, Sarma said that out of these applicants, only two have attended interviews with relevant authorities.

The Assam CM further said that the State conducted outreach programmes in the Barak valley and approached many Hindu Bengali families and asked them to apply for citizenship under CAA. However, they refused to do so saying that they would prefer fighting their cases at the Foreigners Tribunal (FT), Sarma added.

Foreign Tribunals (FT), quasi-judicial bodies exclusive to Assam, are authorised to decide the nationality issue of doubtful citizens, he asserted. Sarma also claimed that most of the Hindu-Bengali families, who were not included in the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), told him that they possessed the necessary documents to prove their Indian citizenship and preferred the FT route rather than applying for through the CAA.

When asked whether the Assam government is dropping cases in Foreigners Tribunals (FT) against Hindu-Bengalis, Sarma termed it misleading. He said the State cannot drop any case. The government is simply advising that before initiating a case, individuals should apply through the CAA portal. Even if a case is filed, there won’t be any outcome because these people are eligible for citizenship, Assam CM emphasised.

CM also assured that he is going to request the Advocate General to flag the issue of CAA so that FTs can give time to people whose cases are going on to apply for citizenship under the newly implemented law.

He added that the government cannot give a direction to the court to pause while deciding the citizenship cases. The FT judges themselves have to decide and they know the latest situation, Sarma said.

He also explained why there was a low number of applications in CAA, saying the Opposition myth that 15-20 lakh Bangladeshis will get citizenship in Assam has been busted completely.

The Chief Minister said that during the anti-CAA movement, five Assamese youths lost their lives. So they made the sacrifice to prevent only these eight people, he asked. This abysmally low number of eight applications, of which only two turned up for interview, is a bit surprising for us also, he said.

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AAP claims Arvind Kejriwal lost 8.5 kg, Tihar jail rebuts

Not 8.5 Kgs but Kejriwal lost around 3.5 Kgs during his incarceration period in prison.

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The authorities in Tihar jail on Monday addressed the accusations of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that the Delhi Chief Minister has lost 8.5 kg weight through his term of imprisonment, saying not 8.5 Kgs but Kejriwal lost around 3.5 Kgs during his incarceration period in prison.

This was only after one of the confessed BJP’s was planning to destroy Kejriwal’s life by ignoring his medical needs as a diabetic. In contradiction, Tihar prison representatives, according to reports, disclosed that the chief minister has only lost 2 kg of weight from March 30 till now, and he is under the scrutiny of a medical board comprised of doctors from AIIMS.

It all started when AAP leader and Delhi Minister Atishi on Sunday claimed that Kejriwal had a drop in his weight of 8.5 kg after his arrest and his blood sugar continued to be below normal levels several times while in care.

AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh painted a picture of doom by stating that Tihar doctors had verified Kejriwal’s weight loss, mentioning the consequences of excessive health complications due to hypoglycemia. However, the Tihar prison administration denied the claims of AAP, which were sent to the home department of Delhi by saying they were misleading and detrimental to the prison, and were crafted to weaken trust in the prison system.

The authority alleged that they see a report each time the measurements are done; it makes them do their work better, as Kejriwal’s doctor uses it to monitor his condition. Prison staff stated that all necessary health care is provided to him, and he is always fed three times a day with home-cooked meals.

They were vociferous in condemning a plot, saying that the aim was to damage the image of the prison with wrong tales. As stated by Tihar-based medical documents, Kejriwal’s weight was 65 kg on April 1, as he got into the prison, and 66 kg from April 8 to 29. After getting back to jail on June 2, following a 21-day intermediary bail, his weight went down to 63.5 kg.

On July 14, his weight reduced further to 61.5 kg. Thus, a total of 2 kg was lost during his detention. The health condition of Kejriwal is still monitored by the AIIMS medical board, and updates on his health are being regularly given to his wife, Sunita Kejriwal.

However, there is the AAP that is adamant about their affirmative claims, stating that the act of reporting the documents without his go-ahead is illegal and also gives the impression that there are activities going on with the ultimate goal of getting rid of him.

This was followed a few months later by his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation on June 26 in a corruption case that revolved around the same case. Although he was granted anticipatory bail by possibly the apex court filed in the case of money laundering, he is still detained due to the ongoing corruption case.

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Hemant Soren meets PM Modi in Delhi, first meeting after release from jail

He secured bail and became chief minister again on July 4.

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Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in Delhi. This was his first meeting with the Prime Minister after he was released from jail where he spent around five months.

Taking to X, Jharkhand Chief Minister said that the meeting was a courtesy call. Notably, he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 31 this year in connection with a money laundering case related to an alleged land scam.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) executive president had spent around five months in prison, he secured bail and became chief minister again on July 4.

On July 3, JMM leader and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Soren stepped out of the Birsa Munda Jail in Ranchi Friday following the grant of bail by the Jharkhand High Court.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay, while granting bail, noted that the Court’s findings satisfy the condition that there exist reasons to believe that Soren is not guilty of the PMLA offence he has been accused of.

Following Soren’s bail on July 3, the outgoing Chief Minister Champai Soren had said that the party alliance decided to elect Hemant Babu (Hemant Soren) as leader, after which he resigned from his post. Champai Soren tendered his resignation to Governor C P Radhakrishnan and soon after Hemant Soren staked a claim to form the government. Soren along with alliance party leaders met the Governor after he reached Ranchi on July 3 evening from outside. Hemant Soren took oath as the 13th Chief Minister of the State on July 4 again.

Meanwhile, earlier today, BJP leader Deepak Prakash claimed that Hemant Soren’s government of 4.5 years has been one that wreaks havoc on the public, one that takes away employment from the youth. Hemant Soren’s government is a synonym for corruption. The government has been involved in a mining scam, a tender scam and one that has brought jungle raj in the state, he added.  

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