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The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA/ Petitioner) seeking recognition of transgenders as a third gender. The case (National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India & Ors., WP(C) No. 400/2012) was heard by a Division Bench of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri.
Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran represented NALSA with Anitha Shenoy as the Advocate on Record. Additional Solicitor General Rakesh R Khanna appeared for Union of India. Various States and Union Territories also entered appearance in the matter.
NALSA contended that the treatment of trangenders as a non-legal entity was a violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 16 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Citing problems like discrimination, lack of educational facilities, unemployment, lack of shelter and medical facilities, tobacco and alcohol abuse, and problems relating to marriage, property, electoral rights and adoption, NALSA submitted that transgenders,
“should have the right to freely express their gender identity and be considered as a third sex.”
Further, the Petitioner alleged that transgenders could not escape punishment with respect to criminal liability as the definition of “persons” in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and General Clauses Act meant all human beings. However, despite that, they were consciously deprived of their civil rights.
The Petitioner also contended that,
“Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides for fundamental right to life and personal liberty which cannot be denied to Transgenders…. Trangenders were entitled to bare necessities of life such as food, nutrition, clothes, shelter, medical facilities, right to education, right to work and to avail facilities, amenities and privileges such as to obtain a Passport, Ration Card, Electoral Card, Driving License, Identification Card and to adopt children, to marry etc.”
In the light of the aforesaid grounds, the Petitioner inter alia prayed for directions to recognise and grant transgenders legal status as a third gender and to include the category “Transgender” as a third category in providing various facilities or opportunities including in application forms for Election Card, Passport, Driving License, Ration Card, admission to educational institutions and for provision of medical treatment, hospitalization etc. The Petitioner also sought recognition of the right of transgenders to marry and adopt children and formulation of welfare of schemes and provision of pension for their benefit.
The Court after hearing the parties reserved its judgment.
The Supreme Court had earlier heard an appeal against a verdict of the Delhi High Court legalising homosexuality and declaring Section 377 of the IPC as unconstitutional. The judgment in that matter is expected by the end of this year.
Image taken from here.