Supreme Court: Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships, or queer relationships.

The Supreme Court has observed, in an order uploaded on Sunday, that “familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships” while noting that an “atypical” manifestation of a family unit is as real as its traditional counterpart and deserves protection under the law.

                    The Supreme Court said that a woman’s right to avail maternity leave cannot be taken away if she had earlier availed child care leave for her non-biological kids.

            In its verdict, in August 2022 the court said the provisions of Central Civil Services Rules (CCS) regarding maternity leave have to be interpreted in line with the object and intent of the Maternity Benefit Act. The petitioner’s two children were from her husband’s previous marriage. The court said the rules on maternity benefits are formulated in terms of the provisions of Article 15 of the Constitution under which the State can adopt a provision for the protection of the interest of the women.


           The predominant understanding of the concept of a “family” both in the law and in society is that “it consists of a single, unchanging unit with a mother and a father (who remain constant over time) and their children,”

             “This assumption ignores both, the many circumstances which may lead to a change in one’s familial structure, and the fact that many families do not conform to this expectation, to begin with. Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships.”

Additionally, the bench said that a household may be a single-parent household for any number of reasons, including the death of a spouse, separation, or divorce, noting “similarly, the guardians and caretakers (who traditionally occupy the roles of the “mother” and the “father”) of children may change with remarriage, adoption, or fostering.”

The Supreme Court bench said that these manifestations of love and families may not be typical but they are as real as their traditional counterparts and such atypical manifestations of the family unit are equally deserving not only of protection under the law but also of the benefits available under social welfare legislation.

“The black letter of the law must not be relied upon to disadvantage families which are different from traditional ones. The same undoubtedly holds true for women who take on the role of motherhood in ways that may not find a place in the popular imagination,” informed Justice Chandrachud who penned down the verdict on behalf of the bench, the report said.

It is worth noting that the observations are significant as activists have been raising the issue of recognising LGBT marriages and civil unions as well as allowing live-in couples to adopt after the apex court decriminalised homosexuality in 2018.


Leave a Comment


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password