THE BOMBAY High Court on Saturday directed the Mumbai Police to provide protection and not take any coercive action against a 23-year-old transgender person who expressed apprehension of a threat to life and liberty.
The 23 year old, who prefers the gender pronoun “they”, has said in their petition that they have been facing stiff opposition from their parents based in Mysore due to their gender identity. The petition states that while the 23 year old wants to pursue a career in choreography in Mumbai, their family wants them to return and are forcing them to marry a man of their choice.
The division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar while granting interim relief to the petitioner said they are citizen of the country and can live as per their wish and will.
“There is a grievance and you have to protect them. They are the citizen of the country. They can live as per their wish and will. How can you restrict them or tell them to go out of the city?” the bench said.
When the bench was informed by the state counsel that the Mumbai Police had intervened as there was a missing report in Mysore by the petitioner’s family and it was merely assisting the Mysore police, Justice Shinde said the petitioner had not committed any offence. “How are you assisting them (Mysore police)? Have they committed an offence? Do not treat them as criminals. We are directing the police not to harass them, not to force them to leave Mumbai and not to take any coercive action against them,” the court said.
The petition, filed through lawyer Vijay Hiremath, states that the 23 year old did not identify as female, although born as one, and over a period of time realised that they identified as male and wished to embrace this identity.
The petitioner, however, faced opposition from their family, which was also opposed to their choice of career in choreography. In January, after the petitioner began getting job offers in the field of dance, they came to Mumbai. Meanwhile, a missing report was filed in Mysore by their parents.
While the petitioner was staying with a friend in Mumbai, officers from Versova police in Andheri called them, directing them to come to the police station. When they went, they found police officials from Mysore present there along with male members of their family, including their father. Their father told them that they should return to Mysore as their mother was unwell, which later turned out to be false. The petitioner returned but was restrained in the house and was being forced to perform rituals, insisting on them to get married.
In February, the petitioner managed to escape from the house and reach Bengaluru, where an NGO had offered assistance to them to find shelter. A letter was also written to the Bengaluru commissioner about the situation at the petitioner’s home and the apprehension they had. In March, the petitioner returned to Mumbai but their friends once again began receiving calls from the family.
“The petitioner, therefore, fears their family will once again find them and take them back to Mysore against their will or take more severe steps to ensure the same,” the petition said, adding that they have been “living in a state of perpetual fear and anxiety”.
The petitioner sought protection from being forced to leave the city against their will and from any adverse steps being taken against them. The court will hear the case next month.