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The Hindu Editorial

23-October-2023

1. The Court’s ‘no fundamental right to marry’ is wrong

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • The Supreme Court of India, in Supriyo Chakraborty, ruled that there is no fundamental right to marry, effectively prohibiting same-sex marriages.

Protection from Harassment:

  • While denying same-sex marriage, the Court unanimously directed that same-sex couples be protected from harassment and passed various directions to sensitize authorities on LGBTQI issues.

Historical Background:

  • The legal battle for LGBTQI rights in India began with the challenge to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized non-heterosexual relationships.
  • The Delhi High Court initially read it down in Naz Foundation in 2009. Still, this decision was set aside by the Supreme Court in Suresh Kumar Koushal in 2013. However, it was ultimately upheld in Navtej Singh Johar in 2018, decriminalizing consensual adult same-sex relations.

Recognition of Gender and Rights:

  • The Court, in the NALSA case, recognized the right of individuals to identify their own gender. This led to the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, which allows individuals to change their gender identity and protects against discrimination.

The Call for Marriage Rights:

  • In light of the decriminalization of same-sex relations, there was a growing demand within the LGBTQI community for the right to marry.
  • Petitions were filed in various courts, leading to the Supreme Court’s consideration of the issue in Supriyo Chakraborty.

Human Rights and Marriage:

  • The author argues that marriage should be considered a fundamental right, as it is a human right recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which India is a signatory.
  • India’s legal framework and constitutional interpretation have been influenced by the UDHR and other international covenants.

Inequality and Discrimination:

  • The Court’s decision to deny same-sex marriage perpetuates inequality and discrimination, stigmatizing LGBTQI communities and reducing them to second-class citizens.
  • The author emphasizes the urgency of correcting the legal restrictions on same-sex marriages to promote a more inclusive and equal society.

Message to LGBTQI Community:

  • The author encourages the LGBTQI community to continue their advocacy and legal challenges, emphasizing that setbacks are part of the journey toward justice and equality.

Question: Discuss the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the fundamental right to marry and the prohibition of same-sex marriages in the context of human rights and equality in India.

2. Restoring the ecological health of the Himalayas

Topic: GS2 – environmental conservation.

Context:

  • The Supreme Court of India, in response to a petition, has asked the Union government to provide a way forward regarding the carrying capacity of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), which includes towns and cities.

Government’s Approach:

  • The Union government’s affidavit suggests that the Director of the G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment should lead the assessment of carrying capacity for all 13 Himalayan States and Union Territories. It proposes a technical support group involving various organizations and authorities.
  • The government recommends that each Himalayan State/Union Territory sets up a committee led by the Chief Secretary to address carrying capacity issues.

What Carrying Capacity Means:

  • Carrying capacity refers to the maximum population size that an ecosystem or environment can sustainably support over a specific period without causing significant degradation or harm to natural resources and overall health.
  • It’s crucial for balancing human activities and environmental preservation for long-term sustainability.

Previous Initiatives:

  • The Union government has undertaken various initiatives for the overall development of the IHR, including the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme, Secure Himalaya Project, and guidelines on carrying capacity in the IHR.
  • States were reminded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in May 2023 to submit action plans on carrying capacity if not already undertaken.

Focus on Sustainable Development:

  • Past failures in addressing carrying capacity issues are attributed to flawed recommendations and a lack of people-centric approaches.
  • The top court should focus on assessing the “Sustainable Population” of the Himalayan States and their carrying capacity for sustainable populations, including the entire region.
  • The expert committee should consider social aspects and population sustainability, with representation from panchayats and urban local bodies, to build sustainable solutions.
  • Engaging with the local population is crucial, as their concerns about projects like hydropower and highways have often been disregarded, leading to adverse consequences.

Question: Explain the concept of ‘carrying capacity’ in the context of the Himalayan States and the need for a people-centric and sustainable approach to address environmental challenges in the region.”

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