Transgender Identity Cards: Calcutta High Court Asks District Magistrates To Process All Valid Applications Within Time Frame
The Calcutta High Court has asked the authorities in West Bengal to process the pending valid applications for issuance of identity cards to transgender persons and decide the same within a month, in accordance with the criteria stipulated under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
The court passed the order while directing Kolkata District Magistrate to issue transgender ID card to Samrat Bhattacharyya, who in a petition alleged that the authority failed to issue a card despite the application having been submitted on the National Portal in or around the month of March, 2022.
Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya said:
“[The Petition] is allowed, directing the respondent-authorities to ensure that, subject to satisfaction of the concerned District Magistrate that the petitioner fulfils the criteria as stipulated in the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, transgender identity card is issued to the petitioner latest by February 02, 2023. It is expected that within the said time-frame, the respondents shall process all similar pending valid applications before it and take decisions thereon.”
Bhattacharyya's counsel told the court that in terms of the provisions of the Act, the mandate is upon the District Magistrate to issue the identity card within thirty days.
It was further submitted by the petitioner that as per statistics presented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment before the Lok Sabha, there were 53 valid applications pending in total in West Bengal, out of which transgender identity certificate was issued to only one transgender person as on 14.12.2021.
Accordingly, it was argued that even if one person was issued such identity card, the authorities are mandated in law to comply with the provisions enshrined in Article 14 to do complete justice and equality between all concerned and to issue such cards to the petitioner and the other valid applicants.
The State, on the other hand, pointed out that Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 were only promulgated by West Bengal with effect from November 04, 2022, which is why they could not be implemented or given effect to earlier.
The High Court, after hearing the arguments, said:
“It is evident that even if the State did not adopt the Central Rules, it was the mandate of law on the District Magistrate to issue identity card to transgender persons within the contemplation of the 2019 Act and the Central Rules within the period as stipulated therein. Unfortunately, it is apparent that only one out of fifty-three total valid applications had been processed till December 14, 2021.”
Allowing the petition, the court said it is incumbent upon the District Magistrate to issue the identity card of the petitioner, upon being satisfied that the petitioner complies with the provisions of the 2019 Act.
Case Title: Samrat Bhattacharyya v. Union of India and Others
Case No: WPA No. 27665 of 2022
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Cal) 4
Coram: Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya