The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Central government on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to provide equal protection to the transgender community against sexual offences.
A bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde, issued notice to the Centre seeking its detailed response on the matter and posted it for further hearing without giving any date.
The bench also asked the senior advocate Vikas Singh, who was appearing for the petitioner lawyer Reepak Kansal, to place before the court a list of issues on which the Supreme Court had laid down guidelines citing the example of the Vishakha guidelines.
"It is a very good issue. Issue notice," the bench led by CJI Bobde said.
The petition sought directions to the Union of India (UOI) to make appropriate modification/interpretation of sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with sexual assaults against transgender/transsexuals and or eunuchs.
The plea sought that appropriate orders and or directions be given to the Centre to make the laws gender-neutral to the sexual harassment mechsms.
Reepak Kansal, a practising lawyer in the Supreme Court, pleaded it issue directions to the Central government to pass an anti-discrimination bill that penalizes or punishes discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender.
The Union of India should adopt and implement the universal declaration of human rights to protect the fundamental rights of the third gender by giving them equal protection before the law, the plea said.
It challenged the constitutional validity of various clauses and sub-sections of Section 354-A (Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment) of the IPC.
"Indian laws are for men and women and therefore, keeping in view and considering transgender neither men nor women, they generally could not get justice from the authorities due to lack of law. The third gender, are being deprived of many of the rights and privileges which other persons enjoy as citizens of this country," the plea said.
The State cannot discriminate them on the ground of gender, violating Articles 14 to 16 and 21 of the Constitution of India, it added.
The plea said that Article 14 of the Constitution says that the state shall not deny to "any person" equality before the law or equal protection of the law.
( With inputs from ANI )
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