On Tuesday, the honourable High court of Kerala dismissed the case of Habeas Corpus petition filed by the mother of Sruthi, alleging that the Bangalore based well-known NGO Sangama had detained her against her will. She also further alleged that her daughter would be subjected to prostitution and the honourable high court in the presence of Sruthi and her parents, and representatives of Sangama including its Director Gurukiran Kamath, heard the case. Sruthi interacted with her family and gave them confidence that she is pursuing education at Bangalore and wish to be responsible for her own life and asked them not to worry about her.
When questioned by the court on the allegations made against Sangama and of her alleged detention by Sangama, Sruthi informed Justice Anthony Dominic that all the allegations were false and that she is at Bangalore on her own will and that she has moved to Bangalore to pursue her education and employment. The court then dismissed the writ petition.
Prominent city lawyer and human rights activist, Mr BT Venkatesh and advocate Ms Asha of Thrissur represented Sruthi. “The practice in Habeas Corpus cases in Kerala against women was always against the Constitutionally guaranteed Fundamental Rights. The courts are supposed to be the guardian of these Fundamental Rights. But unfortunately emotional blackmail has happened in Saranya’s case where the girl was forced to return to her parents. Fortunately, in this case, the alleged detenue Sruthi came up to the standards of the courageous women and was not overtaken or overwhelmed by the unfriendly atmosphere of the court hall which emphasizes that only courageous and empowered women can have their freedom like that of men”.
A beaming Sruthi, who was at the centre of the case, said after coming out of the court: “I had voluntarily moved out of my native place along with my partner and friend Saranya as our families were opposed to our relationship.’’ She also added: “Saranya’s father made wild allegations against me stating that I had kidnapped and taken away Saranya for illegal and immoral activities. He also deliberately supressed the facts and indulged in emotional blackmail to take back Saranya away from me clandestinely. I am also pursuing to secure the release of Saranya from the detention of her parents.’’
Sruthi also stated that Sangama is one of the finest organisations providing protection and security to give member like me from the marginalised communities, the confidence to lead a free and independent life. The allegations made against Sangama were made with an intention to compel me to go back to my parents and to discourage me to pursue my career in Bangalore.
She also said that she loves and respect her parents and that allegations made against her and Sangama were made forced on my mother by some persons to misled my mother to file this petition. “My mother has been very supportive of me and I know that it is not my mother’s intention to file a petition against me,’’ she felt.
Gurukiran Kamath, Director of Sangama, stated that it is unfortunate that such false allegations were made against Sangama, an organisation that is striving to protect the human rights of sexual minorities, sex workers and other marginalised sections of society for over a decade. He said despite the best efforts to bring down the name of our organisation by such wild allegations, Sangama would never waver from its commitment to these communities. He said the order of the honorable High Court re-affirms their belief that right of choice is a fundamental right that can never be violated by anyone including the state agencies. “Sangama has supported many lesbians and transgenders who migrated from Kerala to Bangalore in the past 10 years and will continue to support them in future as well,’’ he declared.
Manohar Elavarthi, Joint Secretary of Praja Rajakiya Vedike expressed his happiness at the judgement. He said: “the rights of lesbians are routinely violated in different parts of India and there is a need for all human rights groups to extend their support. PRV extends its full support to Sruthi in getting the release of Saranya.’’ He appealed to all human rights and progressive groups to extend support to Sruthi’s struggle and struggles of millions of sexual minorities in India. “The brave efforts of Sruthi will help many more in future in creating a society free from homophobia,’’ Manohar, who is also the founder of Sangama, concluded.
For details call Gurukiran 98803 65692 or Manohar 963222 3460