New Delhi: In a letter addressed to the Bar Council of India's resolution against Marriage Equality hearing in the Supreme Court, over 30 LGBTQIA+ student groups in Indian law schools have slammed the rhetoric terming it as being 'ignorant, harmful, and antithetic' to India's constitution and inclusive social life.
"On 23rd April 2023, the Bar Council of India (‘BCI’) passed a Resolution on the ongoing marriage equality petitions, urging the Supreme Court to abdicate its role and defer the matter to the Parliament instead. The Resolution is ignorant, harmful, and antithetical to our Constitution and the spirit of inclusive social life. It attempts to tell queer persons that the law and the legal profession have no place for them. We, the undersigned, are queer and allied student groups across Indian law schools. As future members of the Bar, it has been alienating and hurtful to see our seniors engage in such hateful rhetoric," said the letter released by the students groups.
Urging the BCI to respect the letter and spirit of the Advocates Act, 1961, the letter asked the council to refrain from speaking on sub judice matters.
The passing of this Resolution is entirely unwarranted and a deplorable attempt by the BCI to illegitimately create influence for itself. The BCI must re-familiarise itself with the role envisioned during its establishment, look at the state of the Indian legal profession, and devote its resources to more pressing challenges – rather than needlessly entering constitutional debates," the letter continued.
The student groups also criticised BCI's apparent lack of concern for fundamental rights in its resolution and characterizing Marriage Equality as a political decision.
"The BCI denies any role of fundamental rights in its Resolution, instead characterising marriage equality as a political decision. This shows their heinous indifference towards the reality of queer and trans persons living as second-class citizens in our country. Consequently, the BCI completely misses that fundamental rights cannot be made to suffer from the inaction of the legislature," the letter continued.
The BCI had highlighted that over 99.9% of Indians are against the concept of Marriage Equality but didn't provide any details on how they came to this statistic.
"Having cited no real authority, the BCI blatantly concocts statistics of ‘99.9%’ of Indians opposing same-sex marriage, to run the worn-out theory that queer persons constitute a ‘miniscule minority’. This has already been rejected by the Supreme Court in Navtej Singh Johar," the student groups lamented.
We call upon the legal fraternity to disavow all discriminatory, parochial, and regressive beliefs that hinder the advance of peoples’ movements towards justice. As students of law, we are proud to situate ourselves in history as a group that stood on the side of justice at this critical juncture. To quote the ever-inspiring motto immortalised by Dr B.R. Ambedkar: Educate, Agitate, Organise!," the letter concluded. A
The BCI resolution, which was issued after a meeting between representatives of different state bar councils, expressed its disapproval of the Marriage Equality hearing as they believe any hearing on such a matter could be harmful for future generations.
A five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices S K Kaul, S R Bhat, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha is currently hearing arguments on pleas seeking legalisation of same sex marriage in India. Homosexuality was decriminalised in India on September 6, 2018.
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