The Supreme Court has recently stayed an order passed by the Kerala High Court directing a woman to go for gender sensitization counselling.

The partner of the lesbian woman alleged that she was illegally detained by her parents for having a relationship with her.

The three-Judge Bench comprising CJI D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha, and Justice J.B. Pardiwala observed, “The Principal Judge of the Family Court and Ms Saleena shall ensure that the statement of the detenu is recorded in a fair and free manner without any coercion or duress from the parents. … there shall be a stay of the orders of the High Court dated 13 January 2023 and 2 February 2023. There shall also be a stay of further proceedings before the High Court till the next date of listing.”

The Bench also issued a notice to the State government and the parents and sought a report to ascertain the factual situation of the case.

Advocate Sriram Parakkat represented the petitioner in this matter.

Brief Facts –

The Kerala High Court passed an order requiring the Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority, Kollam to visit the residence of the respondents and to record the statement of the detenu, who was the daughter of the respondents, and to ascertain whether she was under their illegal detention.

However, the Court observed that if the statement of the detenu indicated that she was not under illegal detention, there would be no need to produce her before the Court. By a further order, the Court directed that the detenu shall have to attend a counselling session in an authorized counselling centre over the next four or five days.

The Supreme Court after hearing the contentions said, “… we direct the fourth and fifth respondents, by way of an ad interim order, to produce the detenu before the Family Court at Kollam by 5 pm on 8 February 2023. The Principal Judge of the Family Court shall arrange for an interview of the detenu with Ms Saleena V G Nair, a Member of the E-Committee of the Supreme Court, who is a senior judicial officer from the State of Kerala. The interview shall be arranged in consultation with the Principal Judge of the Family Court.”

The Court further directed that the officer shall after interacting with the detenu submit a report after ascertaining her wishes and on whether she is voluntarily residing with her parents or is kept under illegal detention.

The Court, therefore, listed the matter on February 17, 2023.

Accordingly, the Apex Court stayed the High Court’s order.

Cause Title- Devu G. v. The State of Kerala & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Order