Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice in a PIL seeking the establishment of the Transgender Welfare Board to address social welfare issues of a trans person and to appoint a Standing Committee in order to investigate reports of abuse against trans persons by the police.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde heard the submissions and directed the Counsel appearing for the Petitioner to bring forth necessary details pertaining to the legislation which may govern the establishment of the Transgender Welfare Board. Consequently, the Court proceeded to issue a notice in the PIL.
Drafted by Advocate CR Jaya Sukin and filed by Advocate Narender Kumar Verma, the plea highlights the suffering and harassment that trans people have to go through in matters of housing, health, education, and employment, thereby depriving them of social and cultural participation.
“The discrimination suffered by them emanates from the social stigma and isolation that they suffer from lack of resources which was provided for transgender people. The transgender community faces stigma and discrimination and therefore has fewer opportunities as compared to others”- states the plea.
Due to this lack of participation and social ostracization, trans people are subjected to restricted access to education, health care, and public places which further deprive them of the Constitutional guarantee of equality before the law and equal protection from laws. Despite the passing of the Trans Act, the problems faced by this community has only been partially addressed and there has been no initiative from the State to fulfill its intention of protecting basic rights that are accorded to everyone.
The plea then goes on to underline that “living without fear of discrimination and violence and being supported and affirmed in being who they are is critical for allowing transgender people to live healthy, safe and fulfilling lives”.
It is then submitted that there exist various contradictions in the Trans Act, which was passed in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s directions in the historic NALSA judgment, such as bestowing power on the District Magistrate to recognize a person as trans (the judgment allowed self-identification of gender), and how, to identify as male or female, one must supply proof of surgery to the Magistrate (the judgement states that insistence on sex reconstruction surgery is illegal).
“India’s parliament passed a bill 2019 to protect transgender rights, but the new law is inadequate on several fronts. Trans activists and allied human rights groups have critiqued the various trans rights bills since the first one was introduced in 2016. In the end, lawmakers failed to consider the concerns the activists raised. As a result, India’s new law will violate the rights of trans people rather than respect and uplift long-persecuted communities”.
In light of the above, the plea prays for the establishment of a Transgender Welfare Board to address social welfare issues of a trans person, and for the appointment of a Standing Committee comprising Station House Officers and human rights and social activists to promptly investigate reports of gross abuse by the police against trans persons.
Chandigarh was the first Union territory to have a Transgender Welfare Board with 14 members in 2017.