IN A move aimed at empowering transgenders, the Union Cabinet Wednesday approved The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, which puts in place provisions for stringent punishment, including imprisonment up to two years, for offences against them.
According to the 2011 Census, India has 6 lakh people belonging to the transgender community.
After the new law comes into force, forcing a transgender to leave a village or residence, forcibly removing their clothes and parading them naked, or inciting them to beg or do similar forms of bonded labour, will be treated as atrocities and violence against them. These acts will be punishable with imprisonment up to two years, along with a fine.
The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, headed by Thaawar Chand Gehlot, had circulated a draft Cabinet note on the ‘Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2016’ to all ministries for their comments on March 23.
It proposed imprisonment of at least six months — and not more than two years — along with a penalty 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 draft Bill included a chapter detailing a series of offences that will be treated as atrocity and violence against transgenders.
The draft Bill also said that transgenders who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes may be declared members of the Backward Classes, and would be entitled to reservation under the existing ceiling for OBCs.
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.
The new law also proposes to create a National Council of Transgender Persons and start schemes to provide them scholarships, textbooks and hostel accommodation. It calls for necessary amendments in the Indian Penal Code to cover cases of sexual offence against transgender persons.
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 its own law in Lok Sabha after “correcting infirmities” in Siva’s Bill. The ministry had held several rounds of consultations and has finally moved a Cabinet note.