The Allahabad High Court recently issued a major order directing state officials to take urgent steps to change the name and gender of a transwoman who underwent gender-reassignment surgery on her school mark sheets and certificates. According to the certificate granted by the District Magistrate to the petitioner, the Bench of Justice Vivek Chaudhary also ordered the issuance of new revised mark sheets and certificates to her.
Brief facts of the case:
Petitioner, whose previous name was X and her gender was male, graduated from High School in 2011 from the U.P. Board and Intermediate in 2013 from the CISE Board. The Petitioner suffered from gender dysphoria and underwent gender reassignment surgery from male to female in October 2017, after which she received a gazette notification changing her name from 'X' to 'Y' and her gender from 'male' to 'female'. With this, the petitioner received an Aadhar card and a pan card in her new name and gender, Y female. The petitioner also requested a change in her High School transcripts and certificates as part of her name and gender transition, but this was denied. The Examination Committee determined that the petitioner's request for a change of name and gender could not be granted because neither the Intermediate Education Act of 1921 nor the regulations enacted under it contain such a provision. The petitioner filed a complaint with the High Court, expressing his dissatisfaction with the situation.
The petitioner stated that the right to choose one's own self-identity and gender is an inherent right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, citing the Supreme Court's ruling in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India and Others (NALSA Case). Furthermore, Section 6(1) of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 states that "if the transgender person undergoes surgery to change gender, such person may apply to the District Magistrate for a revised certificate in the prescribed manner, along with a certificate issued to that effect by the Superintendent or Chief Medical Officer of the medical institution in which that person has undergone surgery." In light of her gender transition, it was contended that the petitioner is entitled to the issuance of necessary credentials.
On behalf of the State, it was contended that the petitioner was ineligible to apply for updated mark sheets and certificates under the 2019 Act since she had gender-reassignment surgery previous to the Act's enactment. The court stated that the goal of enacting the Act is to provide transgender people with equality and respect. Because the Act is a socially beneficial piece of legislation, it cannot be interpreted in a way that defeats the exact goal for which it was enacted. It must be construed in such a way that the serious goal for which it was enacted is realised.
Furthermore, the Court stated that Section 7 of the 2019 Act, which outlines the procedure for obtaining a gender change certificate, must be interpreted in such a way that both transgender people who are issued a certificate under Section 6 and people like the petitioner who had undergone the gender reassignment procedure prior to the 2019 Act's enactment are eligible to apply to the District Magistrate for a gender change certificate. The Court allowed the petitioner to file an application with the District Magistrate under Section 7 of the Act, noting that denying such a right to people who have previously had gender reassignment surgery would defeat the Act's core objective. The Court further stated that after the District Magistrate issues a certificate, the petitioner is free to contact the appropriate authorities for the issuance of new certificates and mark sheets. The State authorities were also ordered to take urgent action to modify the petitioner's name and gender on his or her mark sheets and certificates.
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