CLPR files Applications before Karnataka High Court for protecting transgender persons during the COVID-19 lockdown

April 7, 2020 | Almas Shaikh
Case No. Writ Petition No. 6435/2020 and Writ Petition No. 6671/2020 Date of Filing 01/04/2020 Status Pending Petitioners Ondede and Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, NLSIU (Interveners) Respondents State of Karnataka

Over the last two weeks, the Karnataka High Court has taken up public interest litigation in the case of Mohammed Areef Jameel & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. on relief measures during the lockdown ranging from access to food and essential items, access to medicines, animal welfare and parole for prisoners. These PILs are numbered W.P. No. 6435/2020 and W.P. No. 6671/2020. In these ongoing PILs, CLPR has filed an Intervention Application on behalf of Ondede, a registered public charitable trust working for the rights of transgender persons, and the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, a Research Centre at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore (“NLSIU”), which works closely with SC/ST communities especially manual scavenging groups, tribal and forest-dwelling communities, slum dweller and other vulnerable groups.

 

Ondede submitted that members of the transgender community are unable to pay rents for their accommodation, as they have no earnings and are thus being threatened with eviction. Many have taken private loans and unable to repay the interest to the money lenders. Many persons from the trans community are taking hormone therapy and during this period they do not have the means to purchase their medications due to which they are facing ill-health. The most vulnerable are those who are elderly, with diabetes, HIV and other health conditions where they need medication and they are unable to afford them due to the lockdown and complete loss of earnings.

 

The reliefs sought for by the trans community are:

  • State Government to provide free of cost rations, food and nutrition and provisions including vegetables and fruit to members of the transgender community from ration shops and also from other outlets.
  • Free of cost medicines to HIV positive persons from the transgender community to be made available at government health centres.
  • Free of cost other medicines including hormone therapy medicines, diabetes and other medications to be made available to transgender persons from government and public hospitals.
  • Respondent State government to be directed to pay monthly financial support and cash transfer of Rs. 5000/- per month for six months to transgender persons, to enable to them cover their rent, loans, look after their family members and other expenses. This can be provided from the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana and the State Government.
  • Government to provide free LPG cylinders, rations and waive electricity bill for 6 months to transgender persons. These measures are also assured for 3 months under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana.

 

The Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, NLSIU submitted that slum dwellers and manual scavengers are struggling without basic needs and amenities. NGO workers who have mobilised rations are unable to deliver the rations to manual scavengers due to the lockdown and are unable to move in the city for delivery of the rations. Most of the migrant workers in the State are stranded on highways without food and water. Many of the migrant labourers are also stuck at different locations within Bangalore city need urgent help in getting rations, medicine, food and other essentials including water. Also, the forest-dwelling tribal groups and nomadic tribes are facing problems of food, water and basic amenities as they are living in completely excluded areas, and they have no access to any amenities.

 

The reliefs sought for the most vulnerable groups are:

  • State Government to open all the ration shops all over the State, on an immediate basis to work round the clock and utilise all the community centres in slums to distribute the food and essentials. Food and essentials should be distributed to people in the public ration shops without insisting on ration cards or other identity documents during the lockdown.
  • The Police to issue pass to persons from NGOs who are seeking to deliver rations and essential items to manual scavenger communities and other persons in need so that they can distribute the materials.
  • Migrant workers who are stuck in different locations in Bangalore should be provided food, water, essential items by the State government. This can be done through NGOs and other community groups working in migrant labour colonies.
  • State Government to provide Nomadic Tribes and Semi-Nomadic Tribes with food and basic amenities at the earliest through members of NGOs who are in touch with the community members
  • State Government to make arrangements to reach to the forest dwelling communities through community volunteers and to provide essential food and supplies to them.
  • The Development Corporations for persons in unrecognised habitations such as Thanda Development Corporation, Bhovi Development Corporations, Ambedkar Development Corporations, Babu Jagjivan Ram Corporation, Valmiki Nigama, should be directed to contact these communities and provide food and basic essentials to persons in these habitations.
  • All districts and taluka level APMCs, horticulture and agriculture farms including the Krishi Vignana Kendras and Farmer Training Centres which have basic amenities such as water, place to prepare food etc. should be opened up with the help of concerned officials to accommodate migrant workers as a temporary measure.
  • Make provisions to get in touch with local school teachers and ASHA workers to provide food and essentials to vulnerable communities;

 

The High Court has passed several interim orders. In the Interim order dated  30.3.2020 it directed that the State Government will take care of food needs of citizens who do not have ration cards either by the State of Karnataka or any other State and should provide a comprehensive plan for supply of food grains / food to the needy people, poor, daily wage workers, people residing on the streets etc.

 

The Intervention Application of Ondede and NLSIU was taken on record and numbered vide interim order dated 3.4.2020.

 

The State Government has also filed a detailed statement of reply on 6.4.2020.

 

In an order dated 09.04.2020, the Karnataka High Court passed several orders beneficial to the vulnerable communities:

 

  • The order stated that two month’s pension is being paid to the transgender community under the Mythri scheme in light of the COVID situation. The order also extended the benefits under the Mythri Scheme to all the eligible members of the transgender community.
  • The order provided measures for the Devadasi community in a village near Koppal Town which was completely cut off from ration shops. A suggestion has been made to establish a sub-branch of ration shop near the colony which will facilitate the Devadasis to approach the said sub-branch and take their ration.
  • The Order directed the State Government to take a decision on the question of providing the ration, to beggars, transgenders, sex workers and the category of who have been deprived of their daily earnings, on production of an authenticated proof of identity.
  • It directed the State Government to immediately address itself to the issue of supplying the ration on the basis of the identity documents and the issue of supplying the ration free of cost to those who cannot afford to pay for the ration but are not having the BPL cards.

 

Through these orders, the Government has given orders to eliminate certain difficulties of the most vulnerable community. The matter was heard further on 24 April 2020 and the Hon’ble Court passed directions on various issues, including identification of various categories of migrants in different parts of the State, subsidies for the provisions of cylinders as a one-time measure, supply of dal as part of the ration, and that NGOs should be permitted to support relief work, among other directions.

 

In an order dated 11.06.2020, the High Court has ordered that the relief of providing ration is extended to persons who are not holding ration cards of any State. The ration includes 5 kg rice and 1 kg channa per person per month for the months of May and June, 2020. It also directed the State Government to ensure that the beneficiaries are made aware of the said scheme which exists for the months of May and June, 2020.

 

The orders of the Hon’ble Court is available under the Resources tab.

 

The hearing in the PIL is ongoing and the next date of hearing is 25th June 2020.

Case No. Writ Petition No. 6435/2020 and Writ Petition No. 6671/2020 Date of Filing 01/04/2020 Status Pending Petitioners Ondede and Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, NLSIU (Interveners) Respondents State of Karnataka