The hearing in the same-sex marriage case is likely to be “extremely charged” and may elicit sharp reactions from the public, the Center has detailed in a fresh reply to the Delhi High Court its opposition to a plea seeking a live relay of the proceedings.
In a written reply given on August 20, the Center has also told the High Court that live streaming of court proceedings can be allowed only after a comprehensive framework is put in place through rules to protect data.
“Certain arguments/comments on the part of the lawyers or the Bench may lead to a sharp and unwelcome reaction. Such reactions may either come to the fore in social media or may even enter the real life of the people involved from virtual media,” the reply said.
Presenting its case, the government said that “an extremely robust system of media reportage” exists in the country and the matter “will certainly attract considerable attention”.
Even in previous cases where the proceedings were not “entirely live-streamed”, it said, “serious unrest has occurred and wild and unnecessary allegations have been levelled against the sitting judges of the Supreme Court”.
“It is well known that judges cannot defend themselves in public forums and their views/opinions are expressed in judicial pronouncements,” the government’s reply said, adding that there is also a possibility that live-streamed Content can be “edited or morphed”.
The reply said, “To preserve the seriousness, dignity and solemnity of the proceedings of the Court, especially in cases where sharp ideological differences may exist, it may be advised that the proceedings should not be telecast live.”
The government has further stated that the petitioners are already represented and their lawyers are likely to circulate an update regarding the hearing. It also said that the application seeking a live telecast of the hearing is “more like a direction for the implementation of draft media rules” which are still under consideration by the Delhi High Court.
The Centre’s fresh reply came three months after the division bench of the HC headed by the then Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi asked it to file a “better affidavit”.
The bench had objected to the government’s reply alleging that the purpose of the petition seeking a live relay of the gay case was to “create a dramatic impression of the proceedings and garner sympathy”.
Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, counsel for the petitioners, had then told the court that the Center had curtailed the rights of same-sex couples and there should be consequences for using such words.
At least eight petitions seeking legalization of same-sex marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, the Special Marriage Act, and the Foreign Marriage Act are pending before the court and a declaration that the right to legal recognition of same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. under Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21, irrespective of the sex, sex or sexual orientation of a person.
Seeking dismissal of the petitions, the Centre has argued that marriage in India necessarily depends upon “age-old customs, rituals, practices, cultural ethos and societal values” and that living together as partners and having a sexual relationship by same-sex individuals is “not comparable” with the “Indian family unit concept… of husband, wife and children”.
It also said that there exists a “legitimate state interest” in restricting the recognition of marriage only to persons of the opposite sex.
The matter has now been listed for hearing on Wednesday.