The Supreme Court, on Monday, April 12, asked the Centre and others to respond to a plea seeking directions to establish a welfare board for transgender people and to appoint a committee to promptly investigate the reports of their alleged gross abuse by the police.
A bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde agreed to hear a plea filed by a Mumbai-based organisation.
The organisation stated that transgender people should be treated with the same dignity and respect as others and claimed that transgender people have suffered discrimination for ages and were denied social and cultural participation.
The bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian, stated, "We are issuing notice.''
During the hearing held via video conferencing, Advocate CR Jaya Sukin, who represented the petitioner, stated that it was a sensitive matter, adding that the welfare board for transgender people was required to discuss their social welfare concerns.
According to the 2011 Census, the plea stated that the total population of transgender people was around 4.87 lakh with a literacy rate of 57.06 per cent.
The plea said, "Transgender people are deprived of social and cultural participation, and hence they have restricted access to education, health care and public places which further deprives them of the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law and equal protection of the law.''
It asked the Supreme Court to direct the Centre and the states to appoint a standing committee comprising station house officers, human rights and social activists to promptly probe reports of alleged gross abuse of transgender people by the police.
Referring to the discrimination and mistreatment that transgender people face and how few opportunities they get compared to others, the plea said, "Transgender people should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else and be able to live and be respected, according to their gender identity. But transgender people often face serious discrimination and mistreatment at work, school, and in their families and communities," NDTV reported
The bench observed, "The issue is sensitive, but there is a law now.'' However, the plea cited the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 and said Parliament had passed the bill to protect transgender rights, but the current law is "inadequate on several fronts".
The plea also alleged that the living conditions of transgender people are deplorable and that the vast majority of them are living in rental accommodations.
According to a 2017 report by the National Human Rights Commission(NHRC), 79 per cent of transgender people live in rental housing or shared accommodation, and 52.61 per cent had a monthly income of less than ₹10,000.