Kerala High Court Seeks State's Response on Transwoman's Plea for Compensation Over Denied Gender-Affirming Care

Mainstream
15-May-2024
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The Kerala High Court has sought the response of the State government on a plea filed by a transwoman seeking ₹10 lakh as compensation for being denied gender-affirming care while in jail. In the case of Ahana v. State of Kerala, the petitioner alleges violations of her fundamental and human rights due to the denial of medical treatment, resulting in mental trauma and increased gender dysphoria.

Justice Johnson John presided over the matter on Tuesday and noted the absence of the petitioner's affidavit, which delayed the proceedings. The petitioner's counsel assured the Court that the affidavit would be submitted within a week, despite difficulties in obtaining the petitioner's signature in jail.

In its interim order, the Court directed the State government to ensure that the petitioner receives necessary medical aid while in custody. The Public Prosecutor representing the State assured that directions would be given to the jail authorities to provide the required medical care.

The petitioner, a transwoman accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, alleges that since her arrest in November 2023, all gender-affirming treatments, including hormone therapy, have been denied. This denial has severely impacted her mental health, leading to a dangerously suicidal state.

Furthermore, the petitioner contends that the denial of care violates both domestic legislation, such as the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, and international standards of medical care for transgender individuals and prisoners. Citing landmark judgments, the petitioner argues that withholding gender-affirming care infringes upon her fundamental and human rights.

Seeking ₹10 lakh in compensation from the State government, the petitioner also requests immediate medical aid from specialized professionals. Additionally, she raises concerns regarding her arrest and calls for the formulation of a sex workers' policy in line with Supreme Court guidelines.

The Court scheduled the next hearing for May 17. The petitioner was represented by advocates Padma Lakshmi, Athira CK, and Radhika Krishna. The case highlights the urgent need for comprehensive policies to protect the rights and well-being of transgender individuals within the criminal justice system.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer, MIT ADT University