India’s Supreme Court is set to begin hearing arguments for granting legal recognition to same-sex marriages in a crucial case that will decide the fate of marital and allied rights for lesbian and gay couples in the 1.4 billion-strong South Asian nation.

The top court has called it a "seminal” issue of great importance and set up a five-judge constitution bench to hear the clutch of petitions after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said it opposes gay marriage rights and that the matter should be legislated by India’s parliament and not decided by the courts.

In its latest court filing Sunday, the federal government buttressed its stand that deciding on issues touching upon human relations such as marriage is "essentially a legislative function.”