Ms. Y vs. Karnataka Secondary Education Board & Ors.

December 22, 2017
Gender & Sexuality

The Petitioner, a transgender person, has challenged the inaction of the Respondent authorities in issuing to her new, rectified education certificates bearing her changed name and gender identity.

The Petitioner was born as a male, but identified as a female, and thus, underwent a Sex-Reassignment operation. She had completed her B.A.LL.B. degree, a post graduate Diploma program, and an LL.M. After the operation, she sought to rectify her documents to reflect her new name and gender identity. Accordingly, she submitted an Affidavit affirming the facts, and her Permanent Account Number (PAN) Card, bearing her new name and identity. However, upon sending a request to the Respondents for rectified certificates, there was no response.

This inaction has been challenged on the grounds that it violates the fundamental rights of the Petitioner, as provided under Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21. Reliance has been placed on the landmark judgment of NASLA v. Union of India, where the Supreme Court recognised the right of persons to self identify their gender.

Non recognition of the identity of transgender persons results in them facing discrimination in society. Further, the inaction of the Respondents amounts to discrimination on the basis of gender, and will also result in the Petitioner facing possible harrassment and discrimination while seeking employment, which violates Articles 14 and 15 which provide for equality.

Further, such non recognition was also held to be a violation of the right to dignity guaranteed under the Constitution. The Petitioner would be forced to reveal her previous identity, which would be an invasion of her privacy, and thus a violation of Article 21, as held in Justice Puttaswamy v. Union of India; or would be deprived of employment opportunities for not producing her educational certificates, which would rob her of her right to a dignified life under Article 21.

In K. Prithika Yashini v State of Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court dealt with a similar case of inaction on part of the authorities in responding to a transgender person’s application for change in name, and recognized the right of the petitioner to have her name changed on educational certificates.

The petition was disposed of vide order dated 19.04.2018 and the High Court of Karnataka was pleased to grant relief to the petitioner and direct the respondents to consider the representations made by the Petitioner within a period of 3 months.