New Delhi [India], April 12 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre and State governments on a petition seeking direction to establish Transgender Welfare Board to address the social welfare issues of transgenders.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde issued notice to the Central and State governments on the plea filed by Kinner Maa Ek Samajik Sanstha Trust and asked them to file affidavits stating their stand.
The plea filed through its Trust's President Salma Umar Khan Sakerker also sought direction to appoint a standing committee comprising Station House Officers and human rights and social activists to promptly investigate reports of gross abuses by the police against transgenders.
"Transgender people should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else and be able to live and be respected, according to their gender identity, but these people often face serious discrimination and mistreatment at work, school, and in their families and communities," stated the plea.
The petition said that transgender people are deprived of social and cultural participation and hence they have restricted access to education, health care and public places which further deprives them of the Constitutional guarantee of equality before the law and equal protection of laws.
"The community is facing neglect, isolation, insult, social ostracisation are due to transprejudice that runs deeps in the society and transgenders are still considered untouchable in India," the plea said.
It added that the main problems that are being faced by the transgender community are discrimination, unemployment, lack of educational facilities, homelessness, lack of medical facilities, depression, hormone pill abuse, tobacco and alcohol abuse, penectomy, and problems related to marriage and adoption.
"The right to recognition as a person before the law is guaranteed in numerous international human rights conventions, and is a fundamental aspect of affirming the dignity and worth of each person," it said.
"Legal gender recognition is also an essential element of others fundamental rights - including to privacy, to freedom of expression, to be free from arbitrary arrest, and rights related to employment, education, health, security, access to justice, and the ability to move freely," it added.
The petition said that in 2014, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in the National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India case in which it recognised the rights of transgender people in India and laid down a series of measures for securing transgender people's rights by mandating the prohibition of discrimination, recommending the creation of welfare policies.
"The Parliament passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2019 and the statutory provisions of the Act prohibit discrimination against transgender people. But the Act violates the NALSA judgment on various fronts," the plea said.
It said the Act violates the NALSA judgement by failing to provide reservations in admissions to educational institutions and public appointments by treating the transgender community as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens.
"The Parliament passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2019 that gives the District Magistrate (DM) the power to recognise a person as trans, while the NALSA judgment of the Supreme Court allowed self-identification of gender," it added.
The petition further stated that the NALSA judgment had further said that any insistence on SRS (sex reconstruction surgery) was illegal and stressed that self-determination of gender is integral to one's personality and dignity. However, the 2019 Act specifies that to identify as male or as female, one must supply proof of surgery to the magistrate. Activists say this gives immense power to the DM, leading to the possibility of arbitrariness and misuse. (ANI)