Sai Rahul Vijayakumar v. The Registrar, Bharatiyar University & Anr.

September 3, 2019
Case No. Writ Petition No. 20962 of 2019 Date of Filing 03/07/2019 Status Disposed Petitioners Sai Rahul Vijayakumar Respondents The Registrar, Bharatiyar University State of Tamil Nadu rep. by Secretary, Department of Higher Education

The Petitioner filed the present petition before the Madras High Court seeking directions to:

 

  1. The Bharatiyar University to undertake name and gender changes in his degree certificates and mark sheets.
  2. The Respondent No. 2 to issue instructions to all educational authorities, universities and institutions in Tamil Nadu to carry out name and gender change in educational certificates when applications are made by transgender and intersex persons even in the absence of a court order to that effect.

 

The Petitioner was born as a biological female and completed his Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science & Engineering from Bharatiyar University. The Petitioner’s School and University degree certificates and mark sheets bear the name Gayathri V.

 

However, the Petitioner has identified as male from a young age. In order to affirm the chosen gender identity, the Petitioner issued a public notification in the Official Gazette of the State of Kerala and a newspaper publication that henceforth he will be identified as ‘Sai Rahul Vijayakumar’. Later the Petitioner also underwent sex re-assignment surgery. On the basis of Gazette notification, the Petitioner also carried out changes in other Government issued identity documents.

 

In order to carry out the change of name and gender in his educational documents, the Petitioner approached the Bharatiyar University. However, University refused the Petitioner’s request without assigning any reason.

 

The Petitioner argued that the failure on the part of the University to carry out change in the academic records violates his fundamental right to equality, right to live a dignified life, right to express his gender identity, and right to privacy under Articles 14, 15, 19(1)(a), and 21 of the Constitution of India respectively.

 

The Petitioner argued that the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in NALSA v. Union of India, had upheld the right of transgender persons to self-identify their gender. Further, it held that that change of name and gender in identity documents is essential for leading a dignified life.

 

The Petitioner also relied on the judgment of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court in Jeeva M v. State of Karnataka, Department of Pre-University Education & Anr., where in the Court directed Principal Secretary of Educational Department to issue circular instructions to the authorities/institutions concerned to act in consonance with the directions issued by the Hon’ble Apex Court. The Petitioner further submitted that previous decisions of the Hon’ble High Court of Madras in Swapna v. State of Tamil Nadu and K.Gowtham Subramaniyam v. The Controller of Examination, Anna University, the Hon’ble Court held that transgender persons should not be made to “run from pillar to post” for change of name and gender and that complete applications should be accepted by the authorities.

 

The Bharatiyar University submitted before the Court that the Petitioner had not made an application along with the requisite fees for correction in the certificates. The University further submitted that if the Petitioner submits his application along with fee of Rs.500, they will carry out the required change in the name and gender in the mark sheets and degree certificates.

 

The Hon’ble Madras High Court held that on receipt of the application along with the fee of Rs.500, the Bharatiyar University should carry out the necessary change within a period of three weeks.

 

However, the Hon’ble Court did not pass any specific directions with respect to the second prayer of the Petitioner on the ground that the State Government and educational institutions are already taking the necessary steps in this regard.

 

–  This post has been authored by C. Prabhu and Deekshitha Ganesan

Case No. Writ Petition No. 20962 of 2019 Date of Filing 03/07/2019 Status Disposed Petitioners Sai Rahul Vijayakumar Respondents The Registrar, Bharatiyar University State of Tamil Nadu rep. by Secretary, Department of Higher Education