PIL in SC Seeking Equal Protection of Transgender Person in Sexual Crimes; Court Issues Notice

PIL Equal Protection Transgender Person

The Supreme Court of India on Monday issued a notice to the central government on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). The PIL had been filed seeking equal protection of transgender people in sexual crimes. The matter came up for hearing on Monday, 12th October.

The petition pleads that Transgender people are not protected from sexual crimes under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). IPC being the principal criminal statute in this country, does not extend its protection to Transgender people from sexual assault by a male, female or any other person. It further challenges the constitutional validity of Section 354A of IPC and as it excludes Transgender people who are victims of sexual harassment. This is a violation of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 14, 15 and 21. Furthermore, the category of “person” under the Constitution of India has been extended to include transgender people.

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It was heard by Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramaniam. The petition had been filed by Advocate Reepak Kansal who was represented by Senior Counsel Vikas Singh. The arguments made evoke the NALSA judgment  which granted transgender people the legal status of the third gender. Despite this, the protections of IPC have not been extended to transgender people. CJI Bobde notes that this a good petition. The CJI evokes the Vishaka guidelines passed by the Apex court to protect women at workplaces in the absence of a law passed by the Parliament. Similarly, the Apex court can legislate in this matter till Parliament comes up with a law.

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Why It Matters?

Transgender people are one of the most vulnerable communities. Their susceptibility to sexual crimes is higher than any other gender orientation. There have been umpteen reports filed by human rights organisation alleging violence on transgender people. The violence ranges from intimate partner violence to police brutality and custodial rape. In such a scenario the Apex court taking a stance and extending protection rights to the transgender people under IPC is a welcome move. IPC lays down a list of sexual crimes and the punishment for the same.

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Priyanka Chakraborty is an intern with SheThePeople.TV