The Bombay High Court has directed the police to provide protection to a same sex couple as and when required.
A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Gauri Godse also remarked that there is a need to sensitise police about handling such cases.
Couple feared threat from family
The HC was hearing a petition by a lesbian couple apprehending threat from the family of one of them, who live outside Maharashtra.
The couple, aged 28 and 32 years, met on social media in 2020. They decided to live together in April this year. On April 13, the woman from outside Maharashtra left her home and came to her friend’s place in the state. The latter’s parents accepted their relationship.
A missing person’s complaint was filed by the other woman’s family. She was questioned by the local police for over eight hours, during which her maternal uncle was present. She repeatedly told the police she was voluntarily staying with her friend and refused to go back. The police recorded their statements.
Fearing for their lives, they fled to a neighbouring state. However, the other woman’s family traced them and the police forcibly sent her back with them. She alleged that she was subjected to extreme mental and physical torture at home. She claimed that her plea for help from police and NGOs went in vain. She once again left her home on June 25 and reached Maharashtra to cohabit with her partner.
Court relies on 2018 judgment on LGBTQ rights
They then approached the high court through advocate Vijay Hiremath in view of the threats and violence faced.
Their plea read: “Petitioner No 1’s family is highly conservative and given their past history of illegally detaining the Petitioner No 1, they can go to any extent to protect their ‘honour’, including killing both the petitioners.”
The couple relied on a 2018 Supreme Court judgment that said that LGBTQ persons have a right to choose partners.
Hiremath requested the court that the police, instead of providing a 24X7 protection, can check on them once or twice a day. He also requested that contact number of a police officer be provided.
The bench directed that phone numbers of two officers be provided to the couple.
Additional public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde assured the court that they will provide the contact numbers and security to the couple as and when required.
The police has been directed not to disclose the whereabouts of the couple in case a missing complaint is filed by the other woman’s family. In addition, the police has been asked to provide them with security in case they want to go to their homes to collect their belongings, including documents.
The judges have kept the matter for hearing after two weeks when it will decide whether there is a need to frame guidelines in such cases.