Should India recognise transgenders as the third sex? Acting on a petition filed by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), the Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and state governments seeking their responses.
A bench of justice KS Radhakrishnan and justice Dipak Misra asked them to explain why a third category for transgender people should not be recognised in application forms for election card, passport, driving licence, identification cards, ration card and admission to educational institutions?
Filed through advocate Indra Sawhney, the plea sought reservation for transgenders in educational institutions and job opportunities in public and private sectors, either as a separate category or as being a backward class. They should even be allowed to marry and adopt children.
The Transgender community has been demanding enforcement of their fundamental right to live with dignity and get legal recognition to their sex as the third sex.
The petition cited the 2003 order of Madhya Pradesh HC upholding an election tribunal's decision that nullified election of a transgender, Kamala Jaan, as the mayor of Katni. The order, it added, was unfair to the third sex as it deprived their statutory right to vote and contest elections.
The plea raised a point regarding transgenders' right to equal protection before the law. As far as criminal liability was concerned, transgenders were treated on a par with men and women.
"The word "person" in the IPC and General Clauses Act means human beings. Persons who can be punished for committing offences include transgenders though they are consciously deprived of their civil rights," it stated. However, when it came to extending civil rights to trangenders, the comprehensive definition of the word "person" was ignored to shun them by the society, the petition stated.