The Kerala High Court has allowed two women to live together as partners, ordering the release of one of them from her parents’ custody after the other woman filed a habeas corpus petition before the court. This is the first habeas corpus intervention by a court to benefit same-sex partners since the Supreme Court legalised gay rights.
S Sreeja, a resident of Kallada near Kollam, went to court to seek the illegal confinement of her partner by her parents. The judges summoned Aruna to the court and let her go with Sreeja as she wished.
The order is a logical continuation of four Supreme Court orders in 2018. The Supreme Court ruled in the ‘Navtej Singh Johar vs. the Union of India’ case that it was legal for two adults to live together even if they belonged to the same sex. In the ‘Soni Gerry’ case, the court ruled that an adult had a right to take her own decisions.
The court also ruled that adults could live together as partners even if they were not married, in the ‘Nandakumar case’. In another landmark case, the court ruled that courts had a responsibility to release any person from illegal confinement if she wished so. The order came in the ‘Shafin Jahan’ case.
The Supreme Court of India has made it clear that individual rights were above social and moral norms. So the court does not have to go into the legality of same-sex relations. Consensual sex is not a crime. The court only has to release the parties if it finds that they had been illegally confined, a bench comprising Justices C K Abdul Rahim and R Narayana Pisharody observed.
Aruna left her house in Thiruvananthapuram to live with Sreeja. Aruna was taken into custody by the police on a complaint by her parents but a magistrate released her. Her parents, however, forced her back, Sreeja complained before the High Court.
Sreeja said that Aruna had been admitted to a mental asylum and she had visited her there. Though Aruna wanted to go with Sreeja, the asylum authorities would not let her go unless Sreeja produced a court order demanding her release.