April 9, 2016 2:15:30 am
Physical, sexual, emotional and even economical abuse of a transgender person could be punished with imprisonment of up to two years if a Bill drafted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) were to come into effect.
The ministry, headed by Thaawar Chand Gehlot, circulated a draft Cabinet note on the ‘Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2016’ to all ministries for their comments on March 23. It proposes imprisonment of at least six months and not more than two years, along with a fine for people found guilty of compelling a transgender person to beg, denying them access to a public place, forcing or causing a transgender person to leave his/her house or village and harming or injuring their physical or mental well-being.
The Bill provides recognition of transgender people before law and gives them rights and entitlements including reservation in education and government jobs under the OBC quota, if the person in question does not already belong to the SC/ST community. According to the 2011 Census, there are 6 lakh people belonging to the transgender community.
A transgender person, as per the draft legislation, will be recognised as one once he/she gets a certificate issued by the District Magistrate of the district where the applicant is residing on the recommendation of a district-level screening committee comprising a chief medical officer, district social welfare officer, psychologist/psychiatrist, social worker and two representatives of the transgender community.
The draft law also proposes to create a National Council of Transgender Persons and start schemes to provide scholarships, textbooks and hostel accommodation to them. It further calls for necessary amendments in the IPC to cover cases of sexual offence against transgender persons.
The legislation is modelled on the private members’ bill moved by Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva and passed by the Upper House on April 24, 2015. This was the first time in 45 years that a private members’ Bill had been passed by the House, forcing the government to assure the House that it would bring it’s own law in Lok Sabha after “correcting infirmities” in Siva’s Bill. The SJE ministry had several rounds of consultations and has finally moved a Cabinet note.
Many provisions of Siva’s Bill have been accommodated in the government legislation except for provision for exclusive transgender rights courts, reservation in primary, secondary and higher educational institutions, incentives to employers in private sector, special employment exchanges and national and state commissions for transgender persons.
Sources said the SJE Ministry has asked for comments from different ministries in two weeks after which it’ll take the Bill to the Union Cabinet for its nod.
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