The Supreme Court Monday served a notice to the ministry of social welfare in response to a petition by transgender activist and advocate Swati Bidhan Baruah, challenging the Constitutional validity of the Transgender Persons (Protection of rights) Act, 2019.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Baruah said she has claimed in her petition that though the Act was instituted to protect transgender rights, it in fact denies them.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant, heard the petition on Monday. No one appeared on behalf of the government.
The case is likely to be listed for hearing next on March 16.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of rights) Act requires a person from the community to obtain a gender-identity certificate from a District Magistrate. If they undergo a gender reassignment surgery, they will have to apply for a fresh certificate.
Terming the certification process “invasive and violative”, Baruah said, “This procedure of certification is unnecessarily invasive and violative of the personal dignity and privacy of transgender persons…the method completely deprives transpersons of their right to privacy.”
Baruah’s petition was moved in the Supreme Court through advocate Rashmi Nandakumar. The petition has also pointed out that the NALSA judgment of the Supreme Court had asked states to accommodate transgenders within the periphery of benefits awarded to socially and economically backward classes in terms of reservations in jobs and education.
Baruah termed the penal provisions in the Act “toothless and discriminatory”, saying that while punishment for raping a woman is imprisonment with a maximum term for life, penal provisions for sexually abusing a transgender person is imprisonment ranging from six months to two years.
Swati Bidhan Baruah is the first transgender lawyer hired by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). The national aviation agency hired Baruah in November last year. Baruah has previously served as one among 20 judges who mediated cases in the Lok Adalat.
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