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SC Decision: Same-Sex Marriage Left to Parliament

SC denies legal recognition to same-sex marriages. Chief Justice Chandrachud cites need for legislative change, emphasizes queer rights.

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SC Decision: Same-Sex Marriage Left to Parliament
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A Constitution bench comprising five judges at the Supreme Court declined to bestow official recognition on same-sex marriages. Chief Justice of India, D. Y. Chandrachud, who presided over the bench’s deliberations, announced the verdict on 21 petitions seeking legal endorsement for same-sex marriages. He emphasized the court’s role as one of interpretation, not legislation, and suggested that the onus to amend the Special Marriage Act rested with Parliament.

Justice Chandrachud noted that the bench had rendered four separate judgments on the matter, with Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S. Ravindra Bhat, and P. S. Narasimha contributing their perspectives. Justice Hima Kohli was also part of the five-judge panel. The Chief Justice, while directing the central government and state authorities to prevent discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, asserted that queerness is a natural phenomenon with historical roots and is not confined to urban or elite settings.

Justice Kaul expressed his agreement with the Chief Justice’s stance on granting certain rights to queer couples, emphasizing the need to view non-heterosexual and heterosexual unions as two sides of the same coin. Justice Bhat, in delivering the operative portion of his verdict, expressed agreement on certain points while differing on others.

Chief Justice Chandrachud reaffirmed that the authority to alter the Special Marriage Act lies with Parliament and not the court, as the court’s role is limited to interpreting the law. He underscored that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had pledged the government’s formation of a committee to determine the rights and entitlements of individuals in queer unions.

Furthermore, the Chief Justice directed authorities to raise awareness about queer rights and ensure that intersex children are not subjected to sex-change operations before they can fully comprehend the consequences. He also mandated a preliminary inquiry by the police before registering an FIR against queer couples regarding their relationship.

Justice Chandrachud asserted that homosexuality and queerness are not exclusive to urban spaces and are not limited by caste or class boundaries. He argued against the notion that marriage is a static and unchanging institution, contending that the freedom to choose a life partner is intrinsic to the right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Recognizing such unions is vital, he added, and failing to do so would be discriminatory. The Chief Justice stressed that all individuals, including those who identify as queer, have the right to assess the moral quality of their lives, and the law should not discriminate against queer couples by assuming that only heterosexual couples can be good parents.

The verdict was delivered following a ten-day hearing that concluded on May 11. During the arguments, the central government expressed concerns about the potential consequences of a constitutional declaration on same-sex marriage petitions.

The Supreme Court had clarified that it would not delve into personal laws governing marriages while deciding on the petitions seeking judicial validation for same-sex marriages, asserting that the definition of “a man and a woman” in the Special Marriage Act was not strictly based on gender.

Some of the petitioners had urged the court to leverage its authority and prestige to encourage society to recognize such unions, which would enable LGBTQIA++ individuals to lead dignified lives, akin to their heterosexual counterparts.

LGBTQIA++ encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit, asexual, and ally persons. On May 3, the central government pledged to establish a committee led by the cabinet secretary to address the humane concerns of same-sex couples without delving into the legal aspects of their marriages. On April 27, the court questioned whether social welfare benefits, such as joint bank accounts and nominations in provident funds and pension schemes, could be extended to same-sex couples without legalizing their marriages.

Bengaluru

Karnataka Deputy CM alleges BJP plotting Governor’s rule.

Shivakumar vehemently refuted the BJP’s claims, asserting that Karnataka boasts one of the most robust law and order mechanisms in the country.

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Karnataka Deputy CM alleges BJP plotting Governor’s rule.
Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar | PTI Photo

In a recent statement, Karnataka‘s Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar has raised concerns over the BJP’s alleged secretive agenda to impose Governor’s rule in the state amidst heightened tensions regarding the law and order situation.

The backdrop to this accusation stems from the BJP’s criticism of the deteriorating law and order scenario in Karnataka following the tragic murder of Neha Hiremath, the daughter of a city civic body councillor, on the premises of her college in Hubballi. The incident has triggered widespread outrage and protests across the state.

Shivakumar vehemently refuted the BJP’s claims, asserting that Karnataka boasts one of the most robust law and order mechanisms in the country. He accused BJP leader R Ashoka of clandestinely plotting to enforce Governor’s rule as part of a political strategy to undermine the current administration.

The tragic incident involved the stabbing death of Neha Hiremath, a 23-year-old Master of Computer Applications (MCA) student and the daughter of Congress Councillor Niranjan Hiremath. The alleged perpetrator, Fayaz Khondunaik, was apprehended by the police following his escape from the crime scene.

The incident has escalated into a political showdown between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP. While the Congress attempts to portray the incident as a personal tragedy, the BJP has framed it within the context of ‘love jihad,’ further exacerbating the political tensions.

Protests, led by BJP’s student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and other Hindutva-aligned organizations, have erupted across the state, demanding justice and stringent punishment for the accused. This has added fuel to the political fire, with both parties capitalizing on the tragedy to further their respective agendas.

As the situation unfolds, the political landscape in Karnataka remains tense, with accusations and counter-accusations dominating the discourse. The fate of the state’s governance hangs in the balance amidst growing concerns over law and order and the specter of Governor’s rule looms large, intensifying the political turmoil.

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Bengaluru

Bengaluru Firm: Rs 1,500 ‘Forest Bathing’ at Cubbon Park – Viral Post

Debate erupts as Trove Experiences offers Rs 1,500 forest bathing in Cubbon Park. Is commercializing Shinrin Yoku ethical? Explore the controversy.

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Bengaluru Firm: Rs 1,500 'Forest Bathing' at Cubbon Park - Viral Post
(Image:troveexperiences.com)

In Bengaluru, Trove Experiences’ decision to monetize Shinrin Yoku, a revered Japanese practice, has stirred controversy. The offering of guided forest bathing experiences for Rs 1,500 has triggered outcry and ridicule, igniting a fierce debate over the commercialization of a sacred ritual.

Research highlights the benefits of communing with nature, emphasizing its capacity to alleviate anxiety, depression, and uplift mood and self-esteem. Shinrin Yoku, the Japanese art of forest bathing, has long served as an escape from urban chaos, offering a slow, deliberate stroll through wooded areas to soothe modern malaise and restore well-being.

However, criticism has mounted with the introduction of paid guided forest bathing experiences, a novelty in Bengaluru. Trove Experiences’ initiative has sparked a firestorm of debate with its Rs 1,500 forest bathing excursions, conducted not in a forest but at Cubbon Park, where strolling has always been free.

On Trove Experiences’ website, the description of their offering underscores the need for city dwellers to reconnect with nature amidst the stress of urban life. The immersive forest walk promises to leave participants feeling centered and revitalized.

Yet, screenshots of Trove Experiences’ pricing have circulated widely, provoking outrage and mockery. Social media users have derided the notion of paying for a forest bathing experience in a park where grass-touching remains free. The viral post on X has garnered significant attention, with thousands of likes and comments reflecting widespread skepticism and humor.

The controversy surrounding Trove Experiences’ commercialization of Shinrin Yoku underscores broader questions about the ethical boundaries of monetizing sacred practices and the commodification of nature’s healing benefits. As debates continue, the clash between commercial interests and cultural reverence remains unresolved, leaving many to ponder the true essence of Shinrin Yoku amidst the uproar.

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Bengaluru

Tejasvi Surya Faces Backlash at Bengaluru Campaign Event

Tejasvi Surya faces criticism at Bengaluru campaign event as investors demand answers on Guru Raghavendra Co-operative Bank scam.

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Tejasvi Surya Faces Backlash at Bengaluru Campaign Event
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Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya encountered a turbulent situation during a recent election campaign event in the city. The event, held at the Laxmanrao Imandar auditorium, took an unexpected turn when investors who had suffered losses in the multi-crore scam involving the Guru Raghavendra Sahakara Bank Niyamitha demanded accountability from the parliamentarian.

The investors, visibly frustrated by the delay in compensation for their losses, sought answers from Surya and other leaders present, including Basavanagudi BJP legislator L A Ravi Subramanya. Despite attempts by the leaders to assuage their concerns, the investors remained dissatisfied with the responses provided.

Footage from the event circulated on social media platforms, capturing the moment when Surya was escorted out of the venue by his security personnel. During his exit, he engaged in heated exchanges with some of the investors who approached him with their grievances.

The incident drew attention from various political quarters, with Karnataka Congress seizing the opportunity to criticize Surya’s handling of the situation. The party took to Twitter to highlight the MP’s departure from the event, characterizing it as an escape through an “emergency exit door.”

In response, Surya’s office released a statement accusing Congress workers of disrupting the meeting and attempting to derail the BJP’s campaign efforts. The statement condemned the alleged tactics employed by Congress workers, including pushing and shoving attendees, and emphasized the BJP’s commitment to a positive and development-oriented campaign.

The controversy surrounding the campaign event underscores the ongoing fallout from the Guru Raghavendra Co-operative Bank scam, which came to light in 2020. Despite efforts by regulatory authorities and the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation to mitigate the impact on depositors, many individuals remain uncompensated for their losses.

The Enforcement Directorate’s investigation into the scam revealed instances of fund misappropriation and financial irregularities, leading to the attachment of the bank’s properties worth Rs 159 crore. With over 15,000 depositors yet to receive full compensation, the Karnataka government’s decision to hand over the probe to the CBI reflects the seriousness of the situation.

As the election campaign in Bengaluru South unfolds, the incident involving Tejasvi Surya serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by politicians in addressing the grievances of affected constituents amidst ongoing controversies and political scrutiny.

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