A 21-year-old Delhi University transgender student has knocked on the doors of the Delhi High Court, seeking to lodge a sexual harassment case against her male classmate after police allegedly refused to hear her out as she is not a “woman”.
Highlighting that there is a serious lack of appropriate sections in the IPC to deal with cases of sexual offences against transgenders, the student Thursday told a bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal that police told her Section 354A of IPC (punishment for sexual harassment) is not applicable in her case.
“354A is only applicable to women complainants, not transgenders,” she said in her plea, quoting the police response. The bench asked police to work out something on the complaint, else it “knows how to get things done”.
Delhi government Standing Counsel (Criminal) Rahul Mehra submitted that he would take up the issue and file a fresh status report on the matter.
The bench also gave one last opportunity to the Centre, which failed to file its stand on the transgender’s plea seeking to declare that the IPC provision covers victims who are transgender, gender-queer and gender non-conforming persons.
In her plea filed through lawyer Saurabh Chauhan, the transgender also urged the court that police be asked to register cases under IPC Section 354A on complaints by transgenders.
Narrating the ordeal, she said, in her plea, that the “male sex was assigned to her at birth”.
“But over the years when she became more expressive about her gender identity and realised that she was not comfortable with her body… she decided to undergo a sex reassignment surgery,” the plea said, adding that “her family was not supportive and she faced immense emotional pressure and physical violence”.
The plea alleged that “she was subjected to lewd and sexually coloured remarks by male students on account of her feminine gender expression and personality…”
Referring to one incident that took place in June, the petitioner said that “a certain male student made unwelcome sexual advance towards her…”
“The petitioner was traumatised by these incidents and (was) unable to appear for two of her papers in the final examination… ,” the plea said, adding that not lodging a complaint is a violation of fundamental rights and contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court.
The court was also informed that police are clueless on what sections to invoke when they receive such complaints, as issues of transgenders are not covered by existing laws.