Chief Justice Asserts Non-Discrimination for Unmarried and Queer Couples in Adoption and Union Rights
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud recently delivered a landmark order during the hearing on same-sex marriage petitions. The ruling emphasized the imperative to allow unmarried and queer couples to jointly adopt children, challenging the notion that only heterosexual couples can provide suitable parenting.
Critical Review of CARA Guidelines
During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud criticized the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) for overstepping its authority by excluding unmarried couples from the adoption process. He emphasized that the Juvenile Justice Act doesn’t prohibit unmarried couples from adopting and that the assumption that only married heterosexual couples can provide stability to a child lacks substantial evidence.
Eliminating Discriminatory Regulations
Justice Chandrachud highlighted that the differentiation between married and unmarried couples lacked a reasonable connection with CARA’s objective of ensuring the best interests of the child. He further pointed out that CARA’s regulations indirectly discriminated against atypical unions and violated Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on various grounds.
Disagreement within the Bench
While discussing the various judgments on the issue, Justice Chandrachud expressed disagreement with the views of Justice S Ravindra Bhat, emphasizing that the directions in his judgment aimed to enforce fundamental rights rather than create an institution.
Ending Discrimination and Ensuring Equal Rights
The Chief Justice issued a series of directives aimed at ending discrimination against the queer community. These directions included ensuring equal access to goods and services, promoting awareness of queer rights, and safeguarding inter-sex children from forced operations.
Challenging Stereotypes and Recognizing Basic Rights
Refuting the notion that marriage equality is an elitist concept, Justice Chandrachud highlighted the universality of queerness and the need to acknowledge individuals regardless of their social or economic background. He emphasized that the right to choose a life partner is integral to the fundamental right to life and liberty under Article 21.
Practical Implementation and Support
The Chief Justice directed the Centre to establish a committee to address practical concerns faced by same-sex couples, such as obtaining ration cards, pension, gratuity, and addressing succession issues. The move aimed to provide necessary support and recognition to such couples within the legal framework.
Chief Justice Chandrachud’s recent rulings emphasize the need for non-discrimination in adoption and partnership rights, challenging stereotypes and advocating for the recognition of the fundamental rights of unmarried and queer couples. The directives issued during the hearing signal a significant step toward a more inclusive legal landscape, promoting awareness and sensitivity towards the rights of marginalized communities and underscoring the importance of practical support for same-sex couples within the legal framework.