Bench gives them last opportunity to file response to Nalsa plea

The Supreme Court has pulled up the Centre and States for not filing their response and explaining their stand on declaring transgenders citizens under a third category to give them equal protection and rights.

Acting on a petition from the National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa), a Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra issued notice to the Centre and the Chief Secretaries of all States in October last. But they have not yet filed their reply. On Wednesday, the Bench gave them the last opportunity, and posted further hearing to September 6.

Nalsa sought a direction to include transsexuals as a third category for purposes of providing them election cards, passports, driving licences, identification cards, ration cards and admission to educational institutions.

The petition said: “The Citizenship Act of India uses the expression ‘person’ without reference to sex. Transgenders being citizens of India ought to be entitled to vote and to contest elections as they are natural persons.”

Explaining the difficulties faced by transgenders, it said: “Many hospitals do not admit them in the women’s ward because women do not feel comfortable or free in their presence and in the men’s ward they face sexual abuse. Provision of separate wards in all hospitals is necessary.”

These “various manifestations of deprivation” were a consequence of recognising only two sexes/genders, male and female, for facilities, amenities and privileges.

Nalsa contended that considering transgenders legal non-entities was violative of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution as “it is arbitrary and discriminatory.

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