|Case No.||W.P.(C) No. 9890/2020||Date of Filing||08/05/2020||Status||Disposed||Petitioners||KABEER C ALIAS ANEERA KABEER||Respondents||STATE OF KERALA; DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL JUSTICE; STATE POLICE CHIEF|
A Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Kerala High Court by Aneera Kabeer, a transgender person involved in mobilising persons in the transgender community for the purpose of achieving equal opportunities for the community. The Petition seeks various reliefs relating to transgender people during period of COVID-19 threat. The writ petition sought for measures by the state government for “the distribution of food ration, medicines, access to medical treatment, etc. to the transgender community in Kerala.” It contended that “the Transgender persons have been specifically discriminated against in the grant of relief measures during lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 and the transgender community in Kerala including the petitioner continuously suffer a violation of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.”
The writ petition also narrated the short history of various steps taken to alleviate the concerns of transgender persons throughout the country and especially in the state of Kerala. The 12th Five Year Plan had recommended the “empowerment of the Transgender community” by enabling access to education, housing, healthcare, etc. The State Policy for the Transgender Persons in Kerala, 2015 was also formulated by Kerala. This policy has documented various disadvantages and instances of discrimination faced by the members of the community. Transgender Justice Board also has been constituted in the State, in addition to Transgender Justice Committees at the district level.
Various issues were faced by the Transgender people since the declaration of the nationwide lockdown on 25 March 2020. The petitioner herself had an experience of refusal of food ration since she did not have a ration card. In the case of many transgender people, what often happens is that they are excommunicated from their parental homes and are unable to avail of the benefit of ration since only the card at the parental house will contain their name. Many members of the Transgender community have undergone sex reassignment surgery and hormonal treatment. Due to this, access to medication becomes crucial, and serious side effects follow if medication is not taken care of. Many members of the community suffered from an abrupt loss of employment due to the lockdown. These were some of the concerns raised in the writ petition.
The Hon’ble High Court of Kerala heard the matter in detail. The matter was argued by Adv. Thulasi K.Raj, under the guidance of Adv. Jayna Kothari, Senior Advocate. The judgment of the apex court in NALSA v. Union of India (2014) was also relied on. It was argued that that discrimination on the basis of sexual identity amounts to discrimination on the basis of sex under Article 15 of the Constitution. In matters such as threat of eviction by private landlords, Adv. Thulasi argued that the same violates Article 15(2), which prohibits private discrimination.
On 8 June 2020, the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala disposed of the matter by directing that necessary steps shall be taken to ensure ration card, identity card to the transgender persons. It was also directed that it must be ensured that medicines are supplied free of cost to the members of the community after showing medical prescription. The directions were as follows:
- If five persons mentioned in the statement filed by the petitioner are approaching the concerned District Authority constituted by the Government for the purpose of addressing the issues of the transgenders, the same shall be looked into and provide necessary articles and medicines to such persons and their grievances shall be alleviated.
- We also direct the respondents to ensure that medicines are supplied free of cost in accordance with the policy of the State Government, whenever any member of the transgender community is approaching the concerned statutory authority with the medical prescription of a doctor.
- If and when any member of the transgender community approaches the District Authority or Nodal Officer appointed for the purpose of issuing gender identity card and the ration card, necessary steps shall be taken at the earliest to address the issues, and on being satisfied, to take immediate steps to issue identity card and ration card to such persons.
- Any other issues raised by the transgenders in writing shall also be addressed appropriately.
Subsequent to filing the writ petition, the petitioner was issued with a ration card by the government authorities. This was also taken note of by the Hon’ble High Court.