The Delhi Police will now register cases pertaining to sexual harassment against transgender persons, following directions from the police commissioner. The order from the top Delhi Police officer was issued after a 21-year-old Delhi University transgender student moved the Delhi High Court. The student had claimed that she wanted to lodge a sexual harassment case against her male classmate, but the police allegedly refused to hear her out as she is not a “woman”.
A bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal had asked police to work out something on the complaint, else it “knows how to get things done”.
On December 17, standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi Police, stated that an FIR on the complaint made on behalf of the petitioner, under provisions of IPC Section 354-A (sexual harassment), has been registered and investigation is underway.
He further stated that based on instructions from the Delhi Police Commissioner, if a “cognisable offence under provision of Section 354-A IPC, in particular, sub-clauses (i), (ii) an (iv), is made out on the complaint of a transgender, the same shall be registered in accordance with law…”
Sub-clause (i) is physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; sub-clause (ii) is demand or request for sexual favours; and sub-clause (iv) is making sexually coloured remarks.
Police also informed the High Court that their direction is in pursuance to the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict that declared transgender persons to be a ‘third gender’; affirmed that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgenders; and gave them the right to self-identification of their gender as male, female or third-gender.
The plea by the student had highlighted that there was a serious lack of appropriate IPC sections to deal with cases of sexual offences against transgender persons. Senior advocate Anand Grover and advocate Saurabh Chauhan, appearing for the student, had contended that police told her IPC Section 354-A was not applicable in her case. “354-A is only applicable to women complainants, not transgenders,” she had said in her plea, quoting the police response.
According to advocate Chauhan, the police order came after the court read Section 354-A and said it is gender neutral and that it does not state anywhere that the complainant has to be a woman. To which police said it has issued orders to lodge cases on complaints by transgender persons. After police submitted that the FIR in the student’s case had been lodged, Grover said the petitioner does not want to push the proceedings any further.