Eunuchs seek to contest polls as women under 50 pc reservation

State election commissioner to take legal opinion on issue

An affable and pleasant man, state election commissioner Rakesh Mehta always greets you with a smiling face even when grappling with the most complex of administrative quandary.

However, the former Delhi chief secretary was a different man on Wednesday.

Mehta looked tired and strained with hundreds of official papers strewn around his large wooden table, clamouring for his attention. But the papers were the least of his problem, as revealed later.

Even before one could sympathise with his mounting work load, Mehta questioned, “Are eunuchs male or female?”

Busy amidst rounds of meetings related to MCD election preparedness, Mehta on Wednesday had a group of eunuchs as visitors.

The purpose of the meeting — to be allowed to contest MCD elections from the seats reserved for women.

“They claimed they are women and should be allowed to contest on the seats reserved for women. Now, I don’t know if it is possible and neither anyone in my office has any clue as to what can be done in such a situation,” revealed Mehta adding that he will seek a legal opinion on the issue.

As per the Navin Chawala Committee Report, 1991, there are M (Male) and F (Female) and O (Others) columns in the nomination papers and eunuchs are usually clubbed in the O category.

However, there are precedents to eunuchs demand. Asha Devi alias Amarnath Yadav got elected as mayor of Gorakhpur in 2007 from a women-reserved seat.

Asha Devi’s nomination was initially turned down by the election commission, but she eventually allowed to contest in light of an earlier Madhya Pradesh precedent of November, 2000 where eunuch Shabnam Mausi had entered Assembly from an open constituency.

The election commission cannot refuse to accept nomination papers although they can be rejected later on grounds of providing false information.

 “A mere self-certification by the candidate regards to sex is accepted in the nomination papers, hence we will have to accept the papers since only after the scrutiny we will be able to know the the truth about the sex claimed,” explained Mehta.

‘Demand justified’

Shanti, a eunuch in the national capital said the demand is justified.

“You think we are animals if not women,” snapped Shanti when asked whether demanding to contest from women-reserved seats by eunuchs is justified.

While there may be thousands of eunuchs in the city, according to election commission records, there are just about 300 registered voters out of these. Their number may be few, but they have left Mehta with a big problem to solve.

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