The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the state social justice and special assistance department to decide, within a fortnight, the representations made by an activist working towards uplifting the transgender community. The activist had moved court seeking various reliefs and welfare schemes for the community, which has suffered economically since a countrywide lockdown was imposed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and raised concerns over lack of medical aid and essential supplies.
The activist had claimed that due to social stigma and lack of government measures, members of the transgender community were not getting any reprieve. The High Court directed the activist to approach the concerned department with elaborate representations.
Stating that governments have completely ignored the welfare of the transgender community and left it at the behest of NGOs, the plea stated that primary occupation of transgenders are sex work and begging, based on close proximity with people, and with distancing norms in place, majority of them are facing a total loss of income. The plea further stated that the government has failed to include them in any welfare scheme.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik on Friday heard a PIL filed by activist Vikram Ramesh Shinde, through advocate Aditi Saxena, seeking relief by highlighting health and economic impact of Covid-19 on the transgender community.
The plea stated that there is high prevalence of HIV, up to 8.2 per cent, as per studies, and along with low immunity, transgenders remain extremely susceptible to Covid-19.
The HC said the PIL, instead of keeping it pending, should be disposed of at this stage with appropriate directions. Chief Justice Datta granted liberty to the activist to file a comprehensive representation to the principal secretary of the social justice department, incorporating all concerns of the community, within a week. The court directed the authority to consider and decide over these concerns, as per law, by passing an order within a period of a fortnight. Disposing of the PIL, the court also directed the state to communicate its ultimate decision to the activist.
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