Food security for transgenders: ‘Other’ gender in Application form for ration card allows transgenders to avail status of head of household ; Allahabad High Court
In another landmark judgment for upliftment of transgenders, Allahabad High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice S.N. Shukla has ensured food security for transgenders under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
The Petition was filed in public interest by Advocate Ashish Kumar Misra in order to raise two concerns relating to the issuance of ration cards under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
The primary issue before the Court pertained to food security for transgenders. The Court acknowledged the case of National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India, wherein the Supreme Court had recognized the Fundamental Right of the transgender population as citizens of the country to possess an equal right to realize their full potential as human beings.
The Court observed that food security means no less to a transgender than to other segments of society, especially since impoverishment and marginalization have been endemic to the transgender population.
It therefore ruled that the reference to gender, in the application forms for issuance of ration card, submitted under the National Food Security Act, 2013, the expression ‘other’ as under ‘female/male/other’ would necessarily include a transgender.
It said that Section 13 of the Act may not have specifically incorporated a provision that would be inclusive of a head of a household as a transgender to apply for the issuance of a ration card. However, the Parliament may consider the appropriateness of a suitable provision to meet the situation.
“The salutary public purpose, underlying the enactment of Section 13 of the Act can be furthered by incorporating a situation where a transgender can be recognized as a head of an eligible household,” the Court added.
However, for now, the Court said that the form prescribed by the State Government, duly takes into account the concerns of the transgender population by recognizing their entitlement to seek access to food security and to avail of the status of the head of a household.
The second issue related to the validity of the provisions of Section 13 of the Act on the ground that the statutory provision while recognizing the eldest woman member as the head of the household does not contemplate a situation where there may be no woman in the family.
With respect to this issue, the Court recognized that the legislative intent behind this provision was to empower women and recognize significant responsibilities which women as decision makers have in a family.
The Court however found no merit in the submission as in a situation where a household either does not have a woman at all or where a woman member of an eligible household is yet to attain the age of eighteen, sub-section (2) of Section 13 of the Act provides that the eldest male member of the household shall be the head of the household for the issuance of ration cards.
Read the Judgment here.