The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to take measures for granting reservations to transgender individuals in local body elections as a step towards integrating them into mainstream society. The directive was issued by Justice SM Subramaniam in response to a case involving Nainarkuppam village panchayat's objection to land allotment to transgender persons in their village.
Justice Subramaniam underscored that transgender individuals have long been subjected to victimization and social exclusion, contrary to the principles of humanity. Citing the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the Court emphasized that transgender individuals are entitled to reservation as they belong to socially backward classes.
The Court expressed the importance of facilitating transgender voices in discussions about their rights and needs, particularly in lawmaking institutions. It emphasized that reservations for transgender individuals should extend to these forums to enable meaningful participation and contribute to societal change.
The case was initiated when the village panchayat president, ND Mohan, submitted a representation opposing land allocation to transgender individuals, citing concerns about cultural impact. However, he later acknowledged his lack of awareness regarding transgender rights and requested to withdraw his petition.
While allowing the withdrawal, the Court highlighted that permitting withdrawal would overlook the societal harm caused by such petitions and underscored the court's responsibility to uphold constitutional mandates.
In addition to the reservation in local body polls, the Court directed the provision of free land to eligible transgender individuals and stressed their inclusion in village festivals, ceremonies, and religious institutions. Advocate R Rajavelavan represented ND Mohan, while Advocates Arun Kumar and E Sundaram appeared for the State authorities.
The Madras High Court's directive reflects a significant step towards the integration and recognition of transgender individuals in various aspects of society, emphasizing their rights, participation, and inclusion.
Author: Anushka Taraniya, News Writer, MIT ADT University