In court, center opposes live streaming of proceedings

A total of eight applications have been made to the High Court on the matter. (Representative)

New Delhi:

The Center has opposed a plea by LGBTQ couples seeking live streaming of proceedings in the Delhi High Court on a batch of petitions seeking to recognize same-sex marriage under various laws, saying the case is not not of national importance.

The Center, in its affidavit, said the petitioners were trying to create a dramatic impression of the court proceedings and gain sympathy.

The dispensation of justice has no bearing on the number of people who watch court proceedings or subscribe to the YouTube channel broadcasting those proceedings, he said.

“The court does not opt ​​for or seek public appreciation when dealing with matters involving questions of law and fact. The social significance of the live broadcast cannot be part of the dispensation of the justice… Comparing India with the live streaming of court proceedings in countries like the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, China and South Africa is misplaced, likewise than the International Court of Justice,” the affidavit reads.

The case is expected to be heard on Tuesday before a bench consisting of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by several same-sex couples seeking a declaration recognizing their marriages under the Special Marriage Act, Hindu Marriage Act and Foreign Marriage Act.

A total of eight applications have been made to the High Court on the matter.

The request to broadcast the proceedings live was filed in the pending motion of Abhijit Iyer Mitra by Akhilesh Godi, Prasad Raj Dandekar and Shripad Ranade, residents of Karnataka and Mumbai.

He has asked the High Court Registry to make arrangements to broadcast the final pleadings in this case live via YouTube or any other platform.

The Center opposed the request and asked for it to be rejected, saying that live streaming can only be allowed after a comprehensive framework has been developed through rules, including for data protection.

“The present case is not an appropriate case where the live broadcast of the proceedings is desirable as it affects the cause of the administration of justice. Before allowing the live broadcast of the proceedings, an appropriate regulatory framework must be put in place,” the affidavit reads.

He said the purpose of the plaintiffs appears to be in bad faith as they were trying to gain unnecessary publicity and unwanted public attention and every case that comes before the court is important and for every case the broadcast in direct may not be feasible and possible.

The affidavit adds that permission to live stream in this case will be useless and should be waved by the party on the merits and the court to decide based on the law and facts and not solicit or evoke public attention.

He claimed that the plaintiff was trying to create unnecessary hype about the matter before this court.

The affidavit says the Supreme Court categorically observed that live streaming is possible in cases of national importance.

“In the present case, no violation of any fundamental right is involved or in any way of national importance,” he said. He further stated that “the majority of the people of India are not much affected by this case and its proceedings.”

The high court previously asked the Center to respond to the live stream application which said the case was of great national and constitutional importance.

Counsel for the petitioners had previously stated that the Supreme Court, the Attorney General of India and the Bar favor the live streaming of proceedings which are in the national interest and that these petitions fall into this category.

The app had given examples of high courts in Gujarat, Odisha and Karnataka taking the lead and formulating rules for live streaming of proceedings.

Mr Mitra and three others have argued that marriages between same-sex couples are not possible despite the highest court’s decriminalization of consensual same-sex acts and demanded a declaration recognizing such marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act and the special law on marriage.

Another plea was filed by two women seeking to marry under the Special Marriage Act and challenging the provisions of the law insofar as it does not provide for same-sex marriages.

The other was filed by two men who married in the United States but were denied marriage registration under the Marriage Abroad Act.

Another petition seeks to allow a foreign-born spouse of an Overseas Indian Citizen card holder to apply for registration with the OCI, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Also, two lesbians who have already celebrated their “marriage” in Varanasi in February 2018 have filed a request for recognition of marriage.

A petition has also been filed by a transgender person who underwent sex reassignment surgery and entered into a civil union with her husband in South Africa and is seeking recognition of the marriage.

The central government has opposed same-sex marriage on the grounds that marriage in India is not just a union of two individuals, but an institution between a biological man and woman.

He also said that judicial interference would cause “complete havoc in the delicate balance of personal laws”.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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