Allahabad HC affirms ‘constitutionally recognised right’ of an individual to change gender

Court asks U.P. DGP to consider the request of a constable to undergo sex change surgery

August 24, 2023 03:00 am | Updated 02:18 pm IST - New Delhi

Emphasising the “constitutionally recognised right” of an individual to change gender, the Allahabad High Court recently instructed the Director-General of Police (DGP) of Uttar Pradesh to decide on an application submitted by a police constable, seeking approval for Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS).

The petitioner claimed to have “all traits of a male personality”.

“The petitioner claims to be suffering from Gender Dysphoria. This has been so diagnosed by an authorised medical practitioner who runs a mind clinic at New Delhi after conducting psychological test,” the petition stated, adding that the petitioner is “desirous of undergoing SRS” to ultimately get “identified as a male”. It further stated that the petitioner’s application is pending with the DGP of U.P. since March.

The petitioner pointed to the “fundamental right to change gender” mentioned by the Supreme Court in its judgment in the National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India and Others case of 2014. In the case, the top court had called gender identity an integral part of the dignity of an individual.

The Bench of Justice Ajit Kumar while asking the DGP to consider the request, said if the modern society does not acknowledge this vested right in a person, it would be only be “encouraging gender identity disorder syndrome”.

“At times such a problem may be fatal as such a person may suffer from disorder, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, and dislike of one’s sexual anatomy,” the court said adding that if psychological interventions to alleviate such distress fail, “surgical intervention should become a must and should be encouraged”.

The court, on August 18, said that it doesn’t find any justification for the DGP to withhold the application of the petitioner. The court has also sought an affidavit from the State government on whether it has framed any Act in compliance with directions issued by the Supreme Court in the NALSA case. If so, the same may also be brought on record, the court said.

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