Kerala HC issues directive to amend NCC Act and enrol transgenders

A writ petition filed by Heena Haneefa, a transgender woman, sought a directive to enrol her in the NCC unit of her college

March 15, 2021 12:33 pm | Updated 12:33 pm IST - KOCHI:

In a landmark judgment, the Kerala High Court on Monday directed the National Cadet Corps (NCC) to amend in six months Section 6 of the National Cadet Corps Act and include transgender persons in the criteria for enrolment in the NCC.

Justice Anu Sivaraman while allowing a writ petition filed by Heena Haneefa, a transgender woman seeking a directive to enrol her in the NCC unit of her college, observed that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 recognised the right of transgenders to a life of dignity and prohibited discrimination against them. In fact, the provisions of the NCC Act could “not preclude the operation of the Transgender Rights Act, 2019”.

The Act was intended to give effect to the rights of transgenders under Article 14, 15, 19, and 21 of the Constitution. In view of the specific provisions of the 2019 Act, “a transgender person has the right to be recognised not only as a transgender but also a right to self perceived gender identity”, the court added.

The court had directed the NCC unit of the University College, Thiruvananthapuram, to keep vacant one seat when the petition filed by the transgender person against the refusal by the NCC to admit her in the university college unit came up last time. The petitioner had alleged that she was denied enrolment only because of her gender. The plea had also challenged Section 6 of NCC Act which allows only males and females to enrol in the NCC.

The court pointed out that the petitioner “who has opted for female gender and had undergone two SRS [sex reassignment surgery] for aiding her self-perception as a member of the said gender will definitely be entitled to enrolment in the NCC Unit reckoning her as a transgender and further as a member of her self-perceived gender, ie female gender”.

Holding that denial of enrolment was unsustainable, the court made it clear that she would be entitled to participate in the selection process on the basis of her application. “If she is successful, the petitioner will be enrolled in the NCC Unit”.

Opposing the plea of the petitioner, the NCC had submitted that as per the existing policy, there was no provision for allowing transgender students to get themselves enrolled in the NCC. It was the prerogative of the Central government to constitute a new division for the third gender. Only male and female genders were now allowed to enrol in the NCC. In fact, before constituting a new division for the third gender, the Centre had to conduct a major exercise in terms of reviewing the infrastructure facilities, modules and facilities for such a division. Any induction of a candidate from the transgender community without due deliberations by the authorities would have far-reaching ramifications. The issue of raising a new division was a policy decision to be taken by the Centre.

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