Trying to break my own pre conceived notions: Madras HC judge on same-sex relationships

(Courtesy: LiveLaw)

Dealing with a protection plea filed by a same-sex couple, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of Madras High Court on Monday (29th March) observed that he was trying to break his own preconceived notions about the issue and he was in the process of evolving.

The Bench of Justice Venkatesh last week expressed its desire to hear the same-sex couple in-camera in view of the sensitivity involved in the matter.

When on Monday, the parties appeared before the Court, the bench conversed with the Petitioners and their parents in order to assess their mental status and to understand their stand, before proceeding further with the case.

Facts in brief

The 1st Petitioner (aged about 22 years) has completed B.Sc. Mathematics and is presently pursuing M.B.A and the 2nd Petitioner (aged about 20 years) is pursuing B.A. Tamil.

The Petitioners know each other for the last 2 years and both of them in unison stated before the Court that their friendship blossomed into love and they were very clear that both of them will be a partner to each other for life.

“The Petitioners did not mince any words and there was so much of clarity in what they wanted to convey”, noted the Court.

The parents of the respective Petitioners, came to know about the relationship between the Petitioners, and it was not to their liking.

When the Court interacted with the parents of the respective Petitioners, expressed their shock and they stated that weren’t able to immediately accept the relationship between the Petitioners.

They were more concerned about the security of the Petitioners and were worried that the Petitioners should not get exploited.

In this backdrop, the Court thought it fit to refer the Petitioners and their respective parents to a counsellor who specializes in working with LGBTQI+ individuals.

Significantly, the Court said,

“This move becomes very vital since this Court is moving into unchartered waters, and a report from a specialist will provide support to this Court to move forward in this case.”

Court’s observations

At the outset, Justice Venkatesh remarked,

“I personally spent some time in doing some research and collecting materials to arrive at a proper understanding of this issue. It would have been possible for me to pack my Order with a lot of research material and get applauded by the outside world for rendering a scholarly Order. There was a call from inside which kept reminding me that if I venture into such an exercise at this stage, it will only be hypocritical of me since the Order will not reveal my true and honest feeling about this very important issue.”

Significantly, the bench further said,

“To be open, I am also trying to break my own preconceived notions about this issue and I am in the process of evolving, and sincerely attempting to understand the feelings of the Petitioners and their parents thereafter, proceed to write a detailed Order on this issue. That is the reason why I am trying to develop this case brick by brick and ultimately, construct something purposeful on this issue.”

Further, the Court also requested Ms. Vidya Dinakaran, M.Sc. Counselling Psychology, to counsel the parties and the request was readily accepted by the specialist, and the counselling will take place during the third week of April 2021.

Lastly, the Court asked for the report to in a sealed cover preferably on or before 26.04.2021.

The Court also got prima facie impression that the parties would work towards a peaceful resolution and the Government Advocate also submitted that the police wouldn’t interfere in the issue any longer, and that the complaints would be immediately closed.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on 28th April 2021.