Apart from Justice Bhat, five more judges — Justices Sanjeev Khanna, Aniruddha Bose, J B Pardiwala, Manoj Mishra and Surya Kant (he recovered last week) — are indisposed at present due to Covid.
Though the scheduled hearing on Monday of the five-judge bench has been cancelled, CJI DY Chandrachud is hoping to resume hearing on Tuesday, if Justice Bhat finds himself fit enough to hear the arguments through video-conferencing. Another judge in the five-judge bench, Justice SK Kaul, too had a minor fall and had to be medically attended to. He, however, appeared to be fit enough to carry on with the hearing on Tuesday, SC sources said.
This is a dampner for the CJI-led five-judge bench which had been pressing the counsel for the petitioners to conclude their arguments latest by Monday, which was earlier designated for hearing the same-sex petitions by cancelling the hearing of miscellaneous cases.
On April 19, the Centre had moved an application requesting the SC to defer hearing to allow the Union government to carry on consultation with the states on the issue as marriage figured in the concurrent list, permitting the Centre and state both to legislate and frame Rules on the subject.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said, “In continuation of my request that the states be heard in this matter, the Union of India has written letters to all chief secretaries of the states… any decision on the present issues without making states a party, without specifically obtaining their opinion on the present issue, would render the present adversarial exercise incomplete and truncated.”
The CJI said, “Now you have told them that this matter is going on. That is excellent. So now the states are not unaware of the proceedings. If any state wants to be a party, it can do so.” The SG said “this is to renew my request that the SC should issue notice to all the states and seek their views”.
CJI Chandrachud has been pressing the parties to be concise with their arguments so as to conclude the hearing prior to the summer break of the SC, so as to allow the five judges to deliberate and write judgment during the vacation.