7 Sep 2021 3:57 PM GMT
The Gauhati High Court on Monday has cautioned that it would impose costs on the State government if it failed to comply with the Court's earlier directions regarding the establishment of a special ward for the transgender community in the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital as well as furnishing of details regarding the benefits given to transgenders under various government schemes....
The Gauhati High Court on Monday has cautioned that it would impose costs on the State government if it failed to comply with the Court's earlier directions regarding the establishment of a special ward for the transgender community in the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital as well as furnishing of details regarding the benefits given to transgenders under various government schemes.
A division Bench comprising Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Manish Choudhury was adjudicating upon a plea moved by by transgender activist Swati Bidhan Baruah, raising several issues faced by members of the said community in accessing health and medical facilities. The PIL had been filed in the year 2018, demanding inclusion of the transgender community as beneficiaries under Centre's Ayushmaan Bharat Scheme, which allows low-income families to subsidized avail health insurance.
The Court vide its ealier order dated April 27, 2021 had directed the State to file an affidavit providing details of six members of transgender community who have received benefit under the Scheme Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (Ayushman Bharat) and the benefits extended to them.
However, on Monday the Court observed with anguish,
"Till date, the respondent No.3 has not filed any such affidavit. As regards this issue, the respondent No.3 shall file without fail the affidavit within 3(three) weeks"
Furthermore, the Court on March 22, 2021 had directed advocate D. Borah, Standing Counsel, Health and Family Welfare Department to apprise the court on how soon a separate wing for the treatment of transgender community can be opened in Guwahati Medical College and Hospital and whether the State Government has any scheme which looks after the health issues of members of transgender community.
In this regard, the Health and Family Welfare Department had placed before the Court a copy of the letter dated April 5, 2021 wherein it had been stipulated that the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital shall soon establish a special ward in the existing hospital to provide treatment to the transgender community within two months.
Further, it had been mentioned in the letter that both Central and State Schemes are available to the members of the transgender community. Similarly, benefits of cashless treatment under Atal Amrit Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana are also available to the members of transgender community if they are otherwise eligible as per criteria specified under the two schemes.
However, on Monday the petitioner pointed out to the Court that despite such assurances, neither a special ward had been established nor were the details of the benefits given disclosed.
Accordingly, the Court directed that one last chance is being given to issue compliance and accordingly observed,
"Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 shall file an affidavit regarding the status for providing special ward and also regarding details of the benefits given to the transgender community under the aforesaid schemes within a period of 3 (three) weeks, as a last chance, failing which, necessary cost will be imposed on the concerned respondents"
The matter is slated to be heard next on October 1.
Case Title: Swati Bidhan Baruah v. State & Ors.
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