SRINAGAR: In a significant development, the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has issued a fresh directive to the Union Territories, urging them to prioritise the rights of transgender individuals.
The court’s directive came in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that sought recognition and protection for the transgender community in the region.
The bench, presided over by Chief Justice Kotiswar Singh and Justice Moksha Kazmi Khajuria, was attentive to the plea advocating for the rights of transgender individuals in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The petitioners emphasised the need for these territories to align with the directives of the Supreme Court, as outlined in the case of National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India & Ors (2014).
Highlighting the plight of transgender women in the region, the petitioners underscored the social challenges faced by this marginalised community. They expressed concern about the low level of social recognition, as well as the derogatory treatment and stigmatization they encounter in their daily lives.
The petitioners stated, “They face unfairness in every aspect of life, be it employment, legal recognition, access to social resources, including a decent standard of living and education. For many, their struggle begins at an early age. Non-conformity to prescribed gender roles renders them vulnerable and exposes them to verbal and physical abuse from their parents, siblings, and other family members. This hostile environment even extends to schools and educational institutions, often forcing them to abandon their studies to escape mockery and harassment, which results in severe mental trauma.”
During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel brought to the court’s attention the numerous orders previously issued in the matter, expressing concern over their lack of implementation.
Acknowledging this argument, the bench observed, “Several directions have been issued by this court on various occasions. However, there is no record of the steps taken by the State authorities, although it has been claimed that various measures have been undertaken.”
Consequently, the court directed both the Union Territories to furnish an updated compliance report, outlining the progress made in ensuring the rights of transgender individuals. Additionally, the petitioners were requested to submit suggestions regarding the necessary steps to be taken by the authorities involved. The court has scheduled the next hearing for July 19, signifying its commitment to advancing the cause of transgender rights in the region.
This directive from the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh reflects a significant step toward creating an inclusive and equitable society, where transgender individuals can enjoy their rights and live with dignity.
It underscores the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the principles of justice and equality, as enshrined in the Constitution, and paves the way for positive change and a brighter future for the transgender community in these Union Territories.