The Case of Supriya Chakraborty & Anr vs Union of India

July 10, 2024

A turning point in Indian law was reached in the case of Supriya Chakraborty and Others v. Union of India. Beyond the immediate effects on individual liberty and the right to procreate. Legal and societal narratives have been altered by this judgment, especially with regard to marital customs and lgbtq+ rights. Its impact extended well beyond the courts, igniting a legal and cultural revolution that has started to rewrite the accepted definition of marriage.

supriya chakraborty vs union of india Facts:

  • In November 2022, Supriyo, also known as Supriya Chakraborty, and Abhay Dang petitioned the Apex Court on behalf of twenty-one same sex couples, requesting recognition of their weddings under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the Foreign Marriage Act of 1969, and the special marriage act 1954.
  • In the public interest and on behalf of lakhs of crores of other lgbtqia+ Indian people, they addressed the court using its judicial review jurisdiction to demand the implementation of their own fundamental rights.
  • The Chief Justice-led Supreme Court bench vigorously discussed same sex marriage at a ten-day hearing earlier this year, deferring the decision until May 2023 and referring the case to a constitutional bench. The final verdict was rendered on October 17, 2023.
  • Even though lgbtqia+ individuals in India have seen significant progress in having their rights recognized, same-sex marriage is still a contentious institution. The petitioners said that the Indian Constitution’s Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(a), and 21, all of which they are attempting to enforce, violate their fundamental rights when same-sex marriages are not recognized.

supriya chakraborty vs union of india Issues:

  • Is getting married a fundamental right?
  • Is it legal for gay couples to form a “civil union”?
  • Is it unconstitutional for the special marriage act 1954 to exclude non-heterosexual couples?
  • Is it possible to interpret the provisions of the special marriage act 1954 to include the freedom to marry?
  • Can non-heterosexual, single couples adopt?
  • Is it legal for transgender individuals in heterosexual relationships to be married?

Contentions by the Parties


  • Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21 guarantee non-heterosexual couples the right to marry, and marriage equality must include all sexual orientations, not only the gay-lesbian spectrum.
  • It is unreasonable to exclude someone based on their “intrinsic and core trait,” and there is no “intelligible differentia” between LGBTQIA+ and non-LGBTQ people.
  • It is necessary to revise the 1954 Special Marriage Act to read “marriage between spouses” rather than “man and woman” and to make it a gender-neutral law, with Section 4(c) of the Act being extra vires.4
  • There is no substitute for the societal and legal institution of marriage than civil partnerships. Limiting the LGBT community to civil unions would send a very strong message of inferiority.
  • There is no “legitimate state interest” for the government to limit the institution of marriage to only heterosexual couples.
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 transcends the boundaries of the Adoption Regulations 2022’s provisions 5(2) and 5(3). Furthermore, the CARA Circular’s requirements extend beyond the JJ Act’s purview.


  • The judiciary is not the right entity to enact legislation in this regard. The only body qualified to offer LGBTQIA+ people a new “socio-legal status of marriage” is parliament.
  • The Special Marriage Act was designed specifically for heterosexual people, and repealing it will return India to a time before independence when it was illegal for two people of different castes, religions, or spiritual beliefs to get married. Progressive legislation would serve no use.
  • Since the entire legal system is designed to protect the interests and welfare of children born to heterosexual spouses, the state has every right to treat heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals differently.
  • The respondents contended that whereas the decisions in Navtej Singh Johar and Shafin Jahan were “monocentric,” the current situation is “polycentric,” meaning it will undoubtedly impact other law provisions.
  • Legalizing same-sex unions would change society and cause an imbalance that would have an impact on family structures.
  • It would be necessary to amend more than 160 laws to allow for marital equality.

supriya chakraborty vs union of india Judgment

  • The five-judge panel unanimously concluded that the freedom to marry is not a fundamental right in and of itself, nor does it fall under the purview of any other fundamental freedom.
  • The court further emphasized its position by drawing a contrast between the two processes, selecting a partner and getting married.
  • The court stressed that, despite its earlier ruling regarding the right to select a spouse for marriage, the State alone has the authority to enact legislation approving marriage.
  • The court further declared that none of the privileges that the petitioners claimed came with marriage are attributes of matrimony itself; rather, they are all advantages that the State offers.
  • The court further stressed that although lgbtqia+ people do not have the right to marry, this does not mean that they are not able to exercise their rights to privacy, autonomy, and choice, aspects that were previously taken into consideration when Section 377 of the IPC was repealed.
  • By a vote of 3 to 2, the court determined that the State is not required to formally recognize any type of civil union as a marriage after carefully examining Articles 19, 21, and 25. As a result, the petitions in this case were dismissed under the terms of the judgment, and lgbtqia+ people were thus denied the right to marry.

The Supreme Court’s thoughtful ruling in the Supriya Chakraborty case has far-reaching implications for the LGBTQIA+ community, even while it rejects the notion that the right to marry is a basic right. For the community, this particular example presents both a difficulty and an opportunity. The court ended the recognition of civil unions as a “positive obligation” of the state and suggested a mechanism for protection against discrimination against LGBT people. It is significant because it served as a spark for further conversations on lgbtqia+ rights in the legal community.

The parliament is the final arbiter of lgbtqia+ rights, but the court recognizes the boundaries of its power to intervene on behalf of legislation. Therefore, the case calls on legislators to address human rights issues and guarantee everyone’s equality and dignity, regardless of sexual orientation.

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