By LE Desk

New Delhi, April 13: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre and others to reply to a plea seeking directions to establish a welfare board for transgenders and to appoint a committee to promptly probe reports of their alleged gross abuse by the police.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde agreed to hear the plea filed by a Mumbai-based organisation which has said that transgenders should be treated with the same dignity and respect as others while claiming that they have suffered discrimination for ages and are deprived of social and cultural participation.

“We are issuing notice,” said the bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, news agency PTI reported.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, advocate CR Jaya Sukin, who appeared for the petitioner, said that it is a sensitive matter and the welfare board for transgenders was needed to address their social welfare issues.

“The issue is sensitive but there is a law now,” the bench observed. The plea has said that according to the 2011 Census, the total population of transgenders is around 4.87 lakh with literacy rate of 57.06 per cent.

“Transgender people are deprived of social and cultural participation and hence they have restricted access to education, health care and public places which further deprives them of the constitutional guarantee of equality before law and equal protection of law,” said the plea.

It has sought the top court’s direction to the Centre and the states to appoint a standing committee comprising station house officers, human rights and social activists to promptly investigate reports of alleged gross abuse of transgenders by the police.

“Transgender people should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else and be able to live and be respected, according to their gender identity. But transgender people often face serious discrimination and mistreatment at work, school, and in their families and communities,” the plea has claimed.

It said transgenders faces stigma and discrimination and get fewer opportunities as compared to others.

Referring to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019, the plea said Parliament had passed the bill to protect transgender rights but the new law is “inadequate on several fronts”.

The plea alleged that living conditions of transgenders are very poor and that majority of them are living in rented accommodations.

It said that as per a 2017 report of the National Human Rights Commission, 79 per cent of transgenders either live in rented rooms or share accommodations with others and 52.61 per cent have monthly income below ₹ 10,000.

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