Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Centre, seeking replies regarding the latest addition to the existing PILs demanding same-sex conjugal rights. This fresh plea was made by an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) from Canada and his husband. It is essentially seeking recognition of the petitioner and his partner's same-sex marriage under the Citizenship Act, 1955, Foreign Marriage Act, 1969, and the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
Petitioner Joydeep Sengupta, now a resident of Canada and residing in France, stated in his petition that he got married to his partner of 20 years Russell Blaine Stephens in New York in 2012. His prayer is for the court to declare that "a spouse of foreign origin of an Indian Citizen or OCI cardholder is entitled to apply for registration as an OCI under the Citizenship Act regardless of the gender, sex or sexual orientation of the applicant". The petition also says that their countries where they have lived for the past two decades - USA, France and Canada - all recognise their union as gay marriage is legal there.
The plea also states that the couple is now looking to adopt a kid, and that Stephens would like to accompany his husband and future child on Sengupta's frequent travels to India to meet his family. He also said in the petition that Stephens has no legal status in India and has only been able to visit India after qualifying for various temporary visitor or business visas.
The couple sought legal recourse to this for fear that even if Stephen applied to get an OCI status as a spouse, his application would be rejected by the Consulate General of India in New York where their marriage is registered. They also cited a previous case where the spousal application was rejected only because the applicant was in a homsexual relationship.
The division bench consisting of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has now sought replies from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Consulate General of India, New York. The matter is listed for hearing on August 27 along with a batch of four other similar pleas.