The Bombay High Court allowed maintenance claims to a trans woman with gender reassignment surgery under the Domestic Violence (DV) Act, 2005. Her maintenance claim had been disputed by her husband as she was not a cisgender woman.
When things went sour between the couple the wife sought to file for maintenance under the DV Act. She had undergone a gender reassignment surgery on 1 June 2016. She got married to the man on 21 July 2016. The magistrate granted the woman her plea for maintenance enlisted in the DV Act.
The November 2019 judgement of the Magistrate had asked the husband to pay 12000 INR monthly maintenance to his wife. He felt wrong and challenged this verdict in a sessions court. The sessions court dismissed his plea in October 2021. Aggrieved, the man went on to challenge the session court verdict at the Bombay High Court.
Trans Woman With Gender Reassignment Surgery
The petitioner's counsel argued that the petitioner's wife did not fall under the purview of 'woman' protected under the DV Act owing to her transgender status.
The DV Act granted protection to 'aggrieved women'. The petitioner argued that she did not fit that category. Additionally, the petitioner's counsel pointed out that the defendant did not possess a certificate under Section 7 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
The defendant's counsel argued that she identified as a woman post her surgery and therefore she should be eligible as a 'woman' under the DV Act.
The sitting judge on the matter Justice Borkar conveyed that the word 'woman' under section 2(a) under the DV Act was no longer restricted to the binary definition of a woman. Therefore, even a trans woman who identified as a woman could claim her right under the DV Act.
The High Court's concluding verdict asked the petitioner to pay his wife maintenance within four weeks and dismissed his plea.
Suggested reading: Is Maintenance Under the Domestic Violence Act the Same As Section 125 CrPC?