Can’t Assume an Illicit Relationship Between a Man and Woman in a Locked Room Together: Madras HC


Feb 4, 2021


A man and a woman inside a locked room cannot be presumed to be in an illicit sexual relationship, ruled the Madras High Court in a case in which a male constable was dismissed for being with a woman constable inside his residential quarters.

“The presence of two individuals of opposite sex inside a locked house need not necessarily lead to a presumption that they were in an immoral relationship,” said Justice Suresh R. Kumar. To use a presupposition that’s based on irrational societal notions  to make decisions that have very deep-rooted implications for the people involved is extremely prejudiced. 

Importantly, the judge added “this kind of presumption prevailing in society cannot be the basis for initiating disciplinary action and inflicting punishment.” This has landmark consequences, for it denies institutional validation to an age-old, discriminatory presupposition that not only views the relationship between men and women as inherently sexual but also polices consensual relationships between them.

He made the observation while quashing the termination of service of an armed reserve police constable on the ground of “moral turpitude,” because the man was found with a colleague inside his locked house. 

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The case is more than 20 years old. In 1998,  a woman constable had entered the residence of petitioner K Saravana Babu, whose door was locked on the inside. Later, when others knocked on the door, the woman was found standing near the kitchen. According to Saravanan, the woman constable had come home at about 7:30 a.m. asking for the keys of her house located close by and while they were talking, someone else locked the door from the outside and then pretended to knock on the door.

The judge pointed out that some of the witnesses had said the door was locked from outside too. The high court substantiated the accused’s claim and added that “there was absolutely no eyewitness or any other concrete evidence to prove that the two constables were found in a compromising position.”

 “Therefore, based on such suspicion and conjectures, one cannot come to a conclusion that some unlawful or immoral activities had taken place and by virtue of that the employee/delinquent is liable to be punished with a maximum punishment of dismissal of service,” the judge said and quashed the dismissal order.


Written By Satviki Sanjay

Satviki Sanjay is an editorial intern at The Swaddle. She’s currently studying philosophy at Miranda House. When not studying, she can be found writing about gender, internet culture, sexuality, technology, and mental health. She loves talking to people, and you can always find her on Instagram @satvikii.


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