KATHMANDU, Nov 5: In a verdict that could have far reaching impact, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that ´adult persons´ are free to live together if they so wish.
The apex court gave the ruling in response to a writ petition filed against Maiti Nepal for holding a lesbian woman, Rajani Shahi, in custody.
Shahi, a divorcee and professed lesbian, was sent to Maiti Nepal at the recommendation of the National Women´s Commission.
The writ petition alleged that Maiti Nepal was holding Shahi like a prisoner.
A joint bench of Justices Kalyan Shrestha and Girish Chandra Lal ruled that Shahi cannot be treated that way just because she is lesbian.
Prem Kumari Nepali, who had been living with Shahi, filed the writ petition at the apex court Tuesday, saying she was prevented from meeting her partner and the latter was being held like a prisoner. In the petition, Nepali also asked to be allowed to live with Shahi.
Earlier, the SC had asked the authorities to present Shahi before the court within three days and the Attorney General´s Office to furnish reasons for treating Shahi like a prisoner.
Shahi said she has already filed for divorce at District Court Kavrepalanchowk, saying she is a lesbian. She has been claiming that her husband and his family had ´abducted´ her from court premises.
A joint meeting of Kavre District Administration Office, the National Human Rights Commission and District Police Office, Kavre on September 7 had decided to keep Shahi in a safe place in Kavrepalanchowk. But she was later transferred to Maiti Nepal.
Shahi claims that she has been held like a prisoner at Maiti Nepal for the past two months.
Arguing that this was against her sexual orientation and her fundamental right to freedom of association, Shahi demanded that she be released immediately from Maiti Nepal.
ANANTA RAJ LUITEL KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court today permitted a lesbian couple to live together as per their wish.
A division bench of justices issued the order responding to a habeas corpus petition seeking the release of Rajani Shahi, the lesbian partner of Prem Kumari Nepali.
Rajani had expressed willingness to stay with her friend Prem Kumari but not with her husband Pradeep Shahi, against whom she has filed for divorce. The bench upheld Rajani’s wish.
During the hearing, Rajani said she did not want to live with her husband, but preferred to live with her partner Prem Kumari.
Concluding the hearing, the bench upheld her wish to live with anyone she wanted and said there was no need for any authority to interfere. “She is capable of deciding for herself,” the bench said adding, “Since she is mentally sound, and is not a minor, there is no need to go against her wish.”
Rajani had tied the knot with Pradeep twelve years back. She has an eleven-year-old daughter. After meeting Prem Kumari three years back and was attracted to her and started living with her.
Charging her of harbouring unnatural attraction as a result of Prem Kumari’s hypnotism, her husband and relatives barred her from meeting Prem Kumari for many months. However, she managed to spend many months with Prem Kumari in the shelter given by Laxmi Ghalan, chairperson of Mitini Nepal, an organisation of lesbians.
Her relatives took her under their control from Kathmandu District Court, where she had gone in relation to her divorce case.
SC allows live-in lesbian relationship The Himilayan times 05/11/12
They then kept her for 45 days in the rehabilitation centre of Maiti Nepal. According to advocate Hari Phuyal, they agreed to take appropriate decision as per her wish after 45 days. “But no decision was taken. So Prem Kumari filed the habeas corpus petition seeking apex court intervention to release Rajani from Maiti Nepal’s rehabilitation centre. She was taken there as per the National Women Commission decision. Her family had requested NWC in this regard.
Phuyal had argued on behalf of Rajani, demanding a court order to settle the case because the issue could not be resolved for years even though National Human Rights Commission and National Women Commission were involved.