Kerala High Court has issued directions to the state to put an end to the issues faced by the transgender community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The court has ordered Kerala government to ensure the free medicines supply whenever a transgender community member is approaching the concerned authority with a valid medical prescription.
The guidelines are issued while hearing a PIL filed by a transgender person raising the issues faced by the community.
“If and when any member of the transgender community approaches the District Authority or Nodal Officer appointed for the purpose of issuing gender identity card and the ration card, necessary steps shall be taken at the earliest to address the issues, and on being satisfied, to take immediate steps to issue identity card and ration card to such persons,” stated the bench comprising of Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly.
The petitioner raises the concern that the transgender community is being excluded from access to the food supply, medicines, and allied treatment, especially amid this COVID-19 lockdown situation. The plea also talked about the torture threat they are encountering from the police authorities.
Responding to the PIL, the division bench of Kerala High Court has issued the following guidelines.
- If and when any member of the transgender community approaches the District Authority or Nodal Officer appointed to issue gender identity card and the ration card, necessary steps shall be taken at the earliest to address the issues and immediate steps should be taken to issue the identity card and ration card to such persons.
- All other issues raised by the transgenders in writing shall also be addressed appropriately.
- It was submitted that the transgender community in Kerala was suffering owing to the illegal and arbitrary attitude of the State Government. This is violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner asserted.
- It was further submitted that the Government of Kerala had also formulated various schemes for the overall upliftment of the transgender community, which included the assistance relating to self-employment, marriage assistance for legally married transgender couples, financial aid for self-employment, sex reassignment surgery and student-scholarship.
Kerala High Court bench further added, “We are also of the view that there are no reasons for denying any basic human rights to a member of the transgender community. But, unless and until such efforts are made by the members of the community to secure their rights through appropriate statutory authority constituted by the State Government due to the peculiar nature of the issue, statutory authorities may find it difficult, especially due to the right to privacy, and right to choice, enjoyed by such persons, which are referable to the right of life and liberty enjoyed by the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
(This news has been written and submitted by Mr. Yogesh Sharma during his course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Mr. Yogesh is a third-year law student at Chandigarh University, Gharuan, Mohali.)