Bombay High Court allows Transgender person to contest Panchayat election as female from ward reserved for women3 min read

BY- JHANVI TAYAL

The transgender community across the world has fought a long battle to be even considered as one of the genders in official documents but the battle was more complex and difficult to culminate in a victory in the developing countries, but the times are changing and change does not come in a day. A member of the transgender community from Jalgaon has been allowed to contest the Panchayat elections after choosing to opt for females as the self-perceived identity for her entire life by the Bombay High Court.

The 42-year-old was represented by Advocate AP Bhandari who informed the court that his client filed the nomination form by choosing the female gender to be able to contest the election from the ward which is reserved for the women-general category. The case was heard by a single-judge bench of Justice RavindraGhuge. The returning officer had rejected the application of the petitioner on December 31, 2020, claiming that there is no reservation for the transgender category in the village panchayat elections.

Advocate AP Bhandari further asserted that it was the first time that the petitioner chose to opt for a right to self-perceived gender identity and selected the female gender for all purposed during her entire life and therefore her nomination form must be considered. He also assured the court that the petitioner would not switch her gender in the future under any circumstances.

SB Pulkundar, the additional government pleader for the state government and the advocate for state election commission AB Kadethankar claimed that they would not make any submissions that contradict the directions issued by the Supreme Court to the central and state governments to formulate various welfare schemes for the transgender communities and grant them legal recognition as male, female or as a third gender. They submitted that the returning officer might be unaware of the law, and thus, might have been in a dilemma while deciding upon the issue of acceptance of the petitioner’s nomination form.

The Court finally noted that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 introduced by the Centre had permitted a transgender person to have a right to be recognized and the right to a self-perceived identity. The court further observed that that RO’s handicap in the knowledge of the law was quite apparent while he decided the fate of the nomination form submitted by the petitioner.

The Court held that as the petitioner has chosen female gender as her self-perceived identity and has submitted an undertaking to not change it into male under any circumstances in her lifetime, her candidature should be accepted and the order passed by the RO on December 31, 2020, must be revoked. The Court concluded by accepting the nomination form of the petitioner as it was otherwise complete in all respects and permitted her to contest the upcoming Panchayat elections from the ward and category which she had initially opted for in her nomination form.

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