18 Feb 2022 2:30 PM GMT
Madras High Court has termed the recent amendment to TN Subordinate Police Officers' Conduct Rules,1964 by the inclusion of Rule 24-C, prohibiting police officers from harassing LGBTQIA+ persons, as a 'milestone' in the approach towards the persons belonging to the community.The High Court has also accepted the standardised guidelines/ prospective glossary submitted by the state government...
Madras High Court has termed the recent amendment to TN Subordinate Police Officers' Conduct Rules,1964 by the inclusion of Rule 24-C, prohibiting police officers from harassing LGBTQIA+ persons, as a 'milestone' in the approach towards the persons belonging to the community.
The High Court has also accepted the standardised guidelines/ prospective glossary submitted by the state government for referring to LGBTQIA+ persons and instructed the press/ media to follow the glossary in letter and spirit.
" The issuance of the above Government Order (Amendment to the Rules) should be considered as a milestone since it is a decisive step taken by state government to inform the persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ Community that they are in safe hands. Most of the complaints in the past used to be addressed against some of the police officers who allegedly were involved in harassing persons belonging to the community and those working towards their welfare. It is under such circumstances that the court made a suggestion to the state government to bring about an appropriate rule so that such harassment by any police officer can be construed as a violation of the conduct rules. Accordingly, the above amendment has been inserted in the relevant rules and it has been brought into force with effect from 16.02.2022".
The court also perused the status report filed by the Department of Social Welfare and Women Empowerment in pursuance of previous court direction and examined the prospective glossary in the report that contains words/ expressions to address people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ Community. The court observed that 9 out of the 24 words circulated as a short note by the petitioner counsel during the previous hearing has been retained and the rest has been suitably modified in consultation with all stakeholders.
"Before issuing any direction, this court wants to place on record its deep appreciation for the sincere efforts by the state government in bringing about a Glossary to address the persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ Community. This important step will ensure that such persons are addressed with dignity in Media, Press and all other places where any reference is made to them. This effort taken by the Government will also repose a lot of confidence to persons belonging to the said community and they will get an assurance that state government is taking steps for their due recognition."
Accordingly, the court accepted the finalised glossary and made the following direction:
"In view of the above, there shall be a direction to Press/ Media (in all forms) to henceforth use the words that are referred in the Glossary for addressing the persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. This court wants to once again reiterate its confidence on Press/ media and sincerely hopes that directions given by this court will be followed in letter and spirit"
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh lauded the team effort in bringing these positive developments, 'reparations for sins committed in the past'.
About the issuance of the government order amending the Police Conduct Rules, the court further remarked that there has been an improvement in the awareness level of police officers regarding the treatment of LGBTQIA+ Community due to the sensitisation programs that have been conducted regularly.
The court also expressed the hope that the amendment will deter the police officials from harassing the community members.
"The sincere steps taken by the Government and DGP deserves the appreciation of this court. Whenever persons belonging to the entire community were addressed, they were addressed as transgender persons. For the first time in India, state government has consciously addressed all persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ Community as such in the amended Police Conduct Rules. This only shows that there is a growing awareness in addressing all the persons belonging to the LGBTQIA+ Community instead of addressing everyone under the head of 'transgenders'."
The court has listed the matter for 8th April, 2022 for filing further reports and compliance.
Case Title: Mrs S. Sushma & Ors. v. The Director-General of Police & Ors.
Case No: WP /7284/2021 (Gen.Crim.)
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 68
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