Over 500 toilets meant for PwD can be used by transgenders, Delhi govt. tells HC

‘Construction of 56 more toilets solely for third gender persons is under way’

Published - August 04, 2022 01:08 am IST - New Delhi

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court

The city government has informed the Delhi High Court that 505 public toilets in the Capital meant for persons with disabilities (PwD) have been designated for use of transgender persons.

Responding to a petition seeking directions for building separate public toilets for transgender/third gender persons in the Capital, the Delhi government said that nine new public toilets have been constructed, and construction of 56 more toilets solely for transgender/third gender persons is under way.

In a report filed on July 27, the Delhi government said that “earnest efforts are being made to ensure work on creation of separate toilets for transgenders and that it is completed on a fast-track basis”.

Six weeks’ time

Taking note of the report, a Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Subramonium Prasad granted six weeks time to the Delhi government to file a fresh status report on the new toilets constructed for the use of transgenders/ third gender persons. The court has now listed the matter for further hearing on November 14.

The High Court was hearing a petition by Jasmine Kaur Chhabra, who was a final-year law student at the time of filing of her plea in 2021, seeking direction to construct separate washrooms for the third gender on the ground that the absence of separate public toilets for transgenders makes them prone to sexual assault and harassment.

Her petition said it was not fundamentally or morally correct to ask anyone of a specific gender to use a public toilet which is made for any other gender.

The plea said the Supreme Court in its 2014 judgment ‘National State Legal Authority vs. Union of India’ recognised third gender which consists of transgenders. “The Centre and the State governments should take proper measures to provide medical care to transgenders in hospitals and also provide them with separate public toilets and other facilities,” the top court had said.

Faces trauma, agony

It said the third gender faces trauma, agony and harassment when they use washrooms built for male or female. This is a serious and concerning issue which the people of transgender community face in their daily life, it said. “When the third gender uses the washrooms made for male and female, then their right to privacy is violated,” it added.

“Mysore, Bhopal and Ludhiana have already started taking action on such matters and have built separate public washrooms for them and that Delhi is still seen nowhere taking such an initiative,” the petition had said.

As there are no separate toilet facilities for transgenders, they have to use male toilets where they are prone to sexual assault and harassment, the plea said. Moreover, there is no remedy available for the same as there are no provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that protects transgenders from sexual assault by any male, female or another transgender, the plea highlighted.

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