Patna High Court Order to ensure social and financial security to Transgender Persons
"All policies framed and instructions issues by the government, be it central or state, shall be implemented in letter and spirit and no member of the transgender community shall be deprived of his Ration only on account of such status or not possessing Ration card" Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S. Kumar directed
On the 27th of August 2020 the High Court of Patna ordered the Social Justice Department, Government of Bihar to respond with the steps that were taken by the government for protecting the rights of transgender persons. In response to which the Social Justice Department responded by saying that they had provided direct benefit transfer to 161 transgender persons in Bihar, while the total population of transgender persons in Bihar is 40,827. Thus Bihar Government provided financial assistance to only 0.03% of the transgender persons in Bihar.
Those Transgender Persons who require financial assistance and do not have bank accounts can reach out for assistance by calling the helpline number 181. Furthermore a COVID 19 helpline has also been established to provide psychological counseling on issues of mental stress and anxiety faced by transgender persons due to social isolation or other reasons due to the lockdown. These are the numbers for availing psychological counseling in Bihar:
1. 7016139648 (Tuesday and Wednesday)
2. 7678687819 (Thursday and Friday)
3. 8882133897 (Saturday and Monday)
Furthermore the RTPS portal where one registers in order to obtain a ration card now also has included a category for transgender persons, therefore now transgender persons can get ration cards with their preferred gender on it.
The Hon’ble High Court of Patna passed an order, dated 20th May 2020, wherein it was pointed out to the court that Transgender Persons in Bihar were unable to access food because of the lack of ration cards. Wherein the court therefore passed an order to ensure that all the policies framed by the government, whether it be central or state, are to be implemented in letter and in spirit, and members of the Transgender Community shouldn’t be deprived of social security schemes solely on the issue of not having a ration card. Further issues were raised of the online form for applying for ration card in Bihar through Right to Service Portal (RTPS), did not allow persons to choose a gender other than male or female, as a response the government said that the website wasn't functioning at present and that they would look into this issue as soon as the lockdown would be lifted.
The court made it incumbent on the counsel of the government to ensure that the services reach transgender persons in Bihar. In the interim application filed by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) it was made clear that there were six transgender persons who were denied ration because they didn’t have ration cards, wherein the counsel for the government reached out to the District Supply Officers to ensure that ration is provided to transgender persons of the districts mentioned. This is a further development of the order of the Hon’ble High Court of Patna dated 1st of May 2020 wherein it issued notice to the Bihar for ensuring supply of ration, providing transgender persons with a monthly pension, establishing a one stop centre at the district level to address issues of transgender persons Government to look into the issues faced by transgender persons during the lockdown.
Transgender Persons in Bihar and from across the country have been facing a number of issues due to the lockdown. Since most transgender persons have been working in the informal workforce most of them have been unable to earn a single penny since the lockdown was announced. Furthermore due to the discrimination they face and the abuse from their family, they are unable to depend on their family for assistance either. There have been a number of cases of transgender persons who have been thrown out of their homes and a recent case wherein a transgender person killed herself because she couldn’t sustain herself and lack of support from the state, society and from her family.
It is in the wake of such a situation in the country that lawyers a petition filed by a transgender person represented by Advocate Shashwat and Advocate Deepak Kumar Singh, associated with Human Rights Law Network, Patna Unit in the Hon'ble high Court of Judicature at Patna 28th April 2020 when various members from the Transgender Community approached the HRLN office in Bihar. Human Rights Law Network partnered with Empowering Marginalized Population Foundation (EMPF) to distribute ration kits and sanitisers to transgender persons in Bihar, where they have been able to provide with ration for more than 45 transgender persons in Bihar and are still in the process of distribution.