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Bombay HC directs police to provide protection to lesbian couple

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has directed the police to provide protection to a lesbian couple as and when required, sources said on Thursday.

A division bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Justice Gauri Godse was hearing a petition by a lesbian couple apprehending a threat from the family of one of them, who lives outside Maharashtra, and seeking direction to the authorities to provide one of them appropriate protection to safeguard her life, liberty, and dignity.

Moreover, the plea sought that no coercive action be taken against the petitioner.

During the hearing, the bench also remarked that there is a need to sensitise police about handling such cases.

Advocate Vijay Hiremath, appearing for the petitioners, argued that the petitioners are consenting adults above 18 years of age who wish to live together and fell in love after they met online. One of the petitioners, who resided outside Maharashtra, ran away from home and came to the other woman’s house in Maharashtra, whose family accepted the couple.

However, the first petitioner was subsequently called to a police station, and her statement was recorded since her parents had filed a missing complaint.

Thereafter, apprehending the risk, both petitioners left for another state, where the first petitioner was again summoned and the second petitioner was allegedly threatened that she would be arrested if the first petitioner did not return to her family, after which the first petitioner returned home.

However, she again left her home and wrote to the Women’s Commission.

In view of the threats and violence they faced, they approached the high court for appropriate directions.

Hiremath requested the court that the police, instead of providing 24X7 protection, check on them once or twice a day. He also requested that the contact number of a police officer be provided.

The bench directed that the phone numbers of two officers be provided to the couple.

Additional public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde assured the court that they will provide the contact numbers and security to the couple as and when required.

The police have been directed not to disclose the whereabouts of the couple in case a missing person complaint is filed by the other woman’s family. In addition, the police have been asked to provide them with security in case they want to go to their homes to collect their belongings, including documents.

The judges have kept the matter for hearing after two weeks, when they will decide whether there is a need to frame policy in such cases.

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