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Developmental Issues

In a landmark judgment, the Kerala High Court on Monday directed the Centre and the National Cadet Corps (NCC) to amend the enrolment criteria under Section 6 of the National Cadet Corps Act and include transgender persons in it for their enrolment in the NCC

Justice Anu Sivaraman ordered the Centre and the NCC to take steps to amend the Act in six months. The court issued the directives while allowing a writ petition filed by Heena Haneefa, a transgender student of University College, Thiruvananthapuram, seeking a directive to enrol her in the NCC unit of the college.

The court observed that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 recognised the right of transgenders to a life of dignity and prohibited discrimination against them. In fact, the provisions of the NCC Act could ‘not preclude the operation of the Transgender Rights Act, 2019.’

The Act was intended to give effect to the rights of transgenders under Articles14 (equality before law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) 19 (freedom of speech) and 21 (right to life and personal liberty). In view of the specific provisions of the Act, a ‘transgender person has the right to be recognised not only as a transgender but also a right to self-perceived gender identity,’ the court added.

“The fact that the NCC Act does not recognise the third gender or that detailed guidelines are required to be drawn up for integration of persons of the third gender into the armed forces or the NCC cannot be a justification to deny entry to the petitioner into the NCC,” the judge observed.

The court said the petitioner ‘who has opted for the female gender and had undergone two SRS (sex reassignment surgeries) for aiding her self-perception as a member of the said gender will definitely be entitled to enrolment in the NCC unit reckoning her as a transgender and further as a member of herself-perceived gender, ie. female gender.”

The court made it clear that the petitioner was entitled to participate in the selection process on the basis of her application. If she was successful, the petitioner shall be enrolled in the NCC senior girls division.

The Centre and NCC had submitted that as per the existing policy, there was no provision for allowing transgender students to get themselves enrolled in the NCC.

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