PIL Challenging the Constitutionality of the Telangana Eunuchs Act, 1919

September 17, 2018
Case No. WP (PIL) 44/2018 Date of Filing 22/02/2018 Status Pending Petitioners Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli Monalisa Sayantan Datta Respondents State of Telangana

On behalf of three transgender activists, CLPR, represented by Jayna Kothari and Disha Chaudhari, filed a Public Interest Litigation challenging the constitutional validity of the Telangana Eunuchs Act, 1919 in the Andhra Pradesh High Court at Hyderabad.

 

The Act, earlier known as the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Eunuchs Act 1329 F, is a draconian colonial legislation that has been in force since 1919 which was enacted for the “registration and control of Eunuchs” in the State. It empowers the Police and State Authorities to maintain registers of ‘eunuchs’ in the State of Telangana and further make arrests in cases where persons are found singing or dancing or cross-dressing in public spaces. In this petition, the Act is challenged on the grounds that it is discriminatory since it criminalizes the transgender community unfairly and without any legal basis. It uses the deeply stigmatizing term ‘eunuchs’ to target them, and requires the government to maintain a register of ‘eunuchs’ in Hyderabad, with their names and addresses, based on a suspicion of kidnapping, emasculation or commission of unnatural offences or abetment of the above.

 

It violates their freedom of speech and expression and takes away their right to privacy, family life, and expression of gender identity all of these being protected rights under Articles 14, 15, 19 & 21 of the Constitution of India. Similar provisions were challenged in the Karnataka High Court and such provisions were amended by the State of Karnataka.  The Telangana Eunuchs Act is an obstacle to the full realization of the rights of transgender persons and the meaningful recognition of their right to live with dignity, personal autonomy and self-determination as upheld by the Supreme Court in its recent decisions in NALSA v. Union of India and in the landmark right to privacy judgement in  Justice K s Puttaswamy vs Union of India & Anr.

 

This petition was listed for hearing before a division bench of the AP High Court on 27.02.2018 consisting of Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Kongara Vijaya Lakshmi. The High Court issued notice to the State of Telangana directing the authorities to file a response to the petition within 3 weeks.

 

The Petition was taken upon for hearing by the High Court on 18.09.2018 on which date the Court passed an interim order staying the operation of the Act until the case was finally decided.

 

This petition was filed with the help of Poojitha  Babbepalli and Neha Pandey of Samvad Partners, Hyderabad.

Case No. WP (PIL) 44/2018 Date of Filing 22/02/2018 Status Pending Petitioners Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli Monalisa Sayantan Datta Respondents State of Telangana