Judge N.Anand Venkatesh

Dealing with lesbian couple’s petition, Judge N.Anand Venkatesh seeks counselling

A petition by a lesbian couple seeking protection from the Madras High Court has put the judge hearing the case more pressure than the petitioners themselves. The judge has booked a session with a councilor to understand the intricacies involved and not hiding the fact that at the time he has been dealing with the issues, he had been fighting his own preconceived notions on the issue. Not hiding his own fight within, Justice N.Anand Venkatesh of Madras High Court has documented his journey through the case.

In a surprise move, the judge has requested a session with the councilor for himself before writing the judgement in the issue.

The lesbian couple are two girls from Madurai. One, aged about 22 years has completed B.Sc. Mathematics and is presently pursuing M.B.A. from Madurai Kamaraj University. The second girl is aged about 20 years pursuing B.A. Tamil also from Madurai Kamaraj University. The girls have been friends for the last 2 years and stated to the court that their friendship blossomed into love for each other. “They are very clear that both of them want to be a partner to each other for life”.

Not surprisingly being in India where society still lives with traditional set of values, the parents of the lesbian couple were completely shocked to know the same sex relationship of their respective daughters. And when the pressure started mounting, the girls left Madurai and ran away to to Chennai. They are now in the care of an NGO – International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (“PCVC”).

The parents approached police and the girls sought protection of the Madras High Court fearing harm and danger to their lives according to various claims made in the court.

Facing the issue of this nature for the first time, the case threw a challenge to His Honour Justice N.Anand Venkatesh, who himself (as His Honour admits) had no idea about the issues involved in same sex orientation.

This Court referred the lesbian couple and their parents to a with Ms.Vidhya Dinakaran an expert LGBTQI+ individuals councilor.

According to the judge, this was very vital since this Court was “moving into unchartered waters, and a report from a specialist will provide support to this Court to move forward in this case”.

What the judge wrote further is an eye-opener. His Honour wrote:

“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.

 “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.”

Also read: Same-sex Marriage: The Indian ‘Yes’and ‘No’ Case

The case came back before Justice N.Anand Venkatesh, along with a report from the expert councillor on April 28.

The court had the report from the Councilor expert. The report extensively dealt with all conceivable issues in the matter. set out under four heads. The report in detail covered:

  • The falsified notions of sex, gender, sexual orientation;
  • How those terms must be understood;
  • Councilor’s assessment of mental state of the lesbian couple; and
  • Councilor’s assessment of mental state of the parents.

But Judge N. Anand Venkatesh was still fighting the preconceived notions on the issue. He felt he himself required counselling to “evolve” in his thinking.

In a unique move, Judge N. Anand Venkatesh ordered one for himself.

Ultimately in this case, the words must come from my heart and not from my head, and the same will not be possible if I am not fully “woke” on this aspect. For this purpose, I want to subject myself for psycho-education with Ms.Vidhya Dinakaran and I would request the psychologist to fix a convenient appointment for the same. I honestly feel that such a session with a professional will help me understand same-sex relationships better and will pave way for my evolution. If I write an order after undergoing psycho-education, I trust that the words will fall from my heart.

The case is listed for June 7 for judgement.