Rajani Shahi was in a heterosexual marriage with Pradip Shahi. She came out as a lesbian to her husband. She filed a divorce against her husband to live with her partner, Ms. Nepali. Her husband then abducted her and forced her to live with him.
Rajani approached the National Women Commission (NWC) to seek protection. The NWC sent Rajani to a shelter home, Maiti Nepal. During her stay in the home, she was not allowed to visit Ms. Nepali. Therefore Ms. Nepali filed this petition on behalf of Rajani, against the NWC, Maiti Nepal and Rajani’s husband. She sought for Rajani’s release from Maiti Nepal.
ISSUES AND DECISION:
The Court had to decide whether Rajani was being detained by the shelter home, Maiti Nepal. The shelter home argued that Rajani was staying out of her own volition and that they had not detained her. However, the Court found that although Rajani voluntarily stayed at Maiti, it denied her of her right to live as she wished. In other words, Maiti Nepal had deprived Rajani of her constitutional right to liberty. It ordered her release from Maiti.
Next, the Court considered whether Rajani could live with Nepali. It described the choice of a life partner as a “personal matter”. Further, it held that such matters would be outside the purview of courts.
The Court allowed a lesbian couple to express themselves. It held that restricting someone’s personal freedoms in any form, is equivalent to detention. Further, the Court disagreed with State or societal intervention in matters of sexual preference and partners.
The Court highlighted the lack of laws and policies regarding homosexual relationships in Nepal. It emphasized the need for national laws which extend legal protection to persons of all sexual orientations.