Discrimination against transgenders lodged in the state’s jails and their status at these correctional facilities will be taken up as a larger issue by the Bombay High Court.
The issue came to the court’s notice after John (name changed), a HIV-positive transgender, sought bail on the grounds of discrimination by other inmates at the Nashik Central Jail. A division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice V.K. Tahilramani on Monday refused to grant him bail but ordered his transfer to Thane Central Jail.
In May 2009, John was convicted for aiding and abetting rape of two minor girls and other charges under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
His advocate Anjali Waghmare said no inmate spoke to him as he is a eunuch. “He is depressed as he feels isolated,” said Waghmare. On March 12, John fainted in his cell and there was no one to look after him, said Waghmare.
When Justice Desai asked Additional Public Prosecutor Rajesh More if all HIV-positive prisoners were kept in isolation, he said John could not be kept with either a male or female inmate and hence he was kept in a separate cell.
Justice Desai said: “It seems you are keeping him separately not because he is HIV-positive, but because of his status. What’s wrong in keeping him with other convicts? This is a larger issue which we need to examine.”