Kerala HC pulls up Centre for exclusion of transgenders in NCC

“The world has progressed, you cannot remain in the 19th century,” the judge told its counsel.
File photo: Kerala High Court.(PTI)
File photo: Kerala High Court.(PTI)
Updated on Nov 30, 2020 10:02 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | ByHT Correspondent

The Kerala High Court on Monday pulled up the Central Government for its stance that the National Cadet Corps (NCC) can’t admit a transgender person as only male and female candidates are eligible to enrol.

While hearing the plea of Hina Haneefa, a transgender student, challenging Section 6 of the National Cadet Corps Act 1948, the court has made serious observations against the Union government.

“The world has progressed. You cannot remain in the 19th century,” Justice Devan Ramachandran observed when central government counsel Dayasindu Sreehari insisted that refusing enrollment to the petitioner under the NCC Act “was not discriminatory” and sought more time to file a counter-affidavit. The counsel also submitted that since the date of enrolment with the NCC had been deferred in pursuant with the court’s previous order, no prejudice has been caused to the petitioner by the NCC or the government.

At this point the judge observed, “It is not the question of prejudice, it is the attitude of authorities that I am worried about... The world has progressed, you can’t remain in the 19th century.” The judge also observed that the government should have stated that it was willing to enrol whatever the law stated.

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“This is an unfortunate stance the Government of India is taking. Certainly, there are three genders, male, female and transgender,” the judge observed adding that the government should have amended the NCC Act by now to make provisions for transgenders. The court later posted the case to December 10.

The petitioner, a degree student of the University College in Thiruvananthapuram, had undergone sex reassignment surgery and obtained a transgender identity card under the Kerala Government’s transgender policy 2015. She moved the court last month when she was denied permission to enrol in the NCC. In her petition, she sought amendment in the NCC Act to allow enrolment of transgenders.

Hina Haneefa (23) said she was an active cadet of the NCC during her schooldays in Malappuram. After joining the University College this year she tried to enrol in the NCC but was bluntly told that there was no provision for the third sex and she was forced to move the court. In the petition, she said transgenders are now allowed even in paramilitary forces and it was unfair to deny an opportunity in the NCC that moulds disciplined cadets to armed forces and the paramilitary.

“Many laws are there but they remain only on papers. What we need is acceptance, not sympathy. Though Kerala is first to come out with a transgender policy and transgender justice board, it has to go a long way,” she said, adding that her fight was not for her alone but for the entire community. She said employment and accommodation remain major challenges to the community.

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