KATHMANDU, Nov 5: In a verdict that could have far reaching impact, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that ´adult persons´ are free to live together if they so wish.
The apex court gave the ruling in response to a writ petition filed against Maiti Nepal for holding a lesbian woman, Rajani Shahi, in custody.
Shahi, a divorcee and professed lesbian, was sent to Maiti Nepal at the recommendation of the National Women´s Commission.
The writ petition alleged that Maiti Nepal was holding Shahi like a prisoner.
A joint bench of Justices Kalyan Shrestha and Girish Chandra Lal ruled that Shahi cannot be treated that way just because she is lesbian.
Prem Kumari Nepali, who had been living with Shahi, filed the writ petition at the apex court Tuesday, saying she was prevented from meeting her ´partner´ and the latter was being held like a prisoner. In the petition, Nepali also asked to be allowed to live with Shahi.
Earlier, the SC had asked the authorities to present Shahi before the court within three days and the Attorney General´s Office to furnish reasons for treating Shahi like a prisoner.
Shahi said she has already filed for divorce at District Court Kavrepalanchowk, saying she is a lesbian. She has been claiming that her husband and his family had ´abducted´ her from court premises.
A joint meeting of Kavre District Administration Office, the National Human Rights Commission and District Police Office, Kavre on September 7 had decided to keep Shahi in a safe place in Kavrepalanchowk. But she was later transferred to Maiti Nepal.
Shahi claims that she has been held like a prisoner at Maiti Nepal for the past two months.
Arguing that this was against her sexual orientation and her fundamental right to freedom of association, Shahi demanded that she be released immediately from Maiti Nepal.