'Doubly marginalised' transgender to a Lok Adalat judge

'Doubly marginalised' transgender to a Lok Adalat judge

Shintu Baghui ( extreme left) at the recently held Lok Adalat in Hooghly district. DH Photo

From the narrow lanes of Kolkata’s Sonagachi (the biggest red-light district in South Asia) to the chair of a Lok Adalat judge, Shintu Baghui, the son of a sex worker and a transgender has come a long way.

Overcoming the taunts and jeers which she has been facing since childhood Baghui showed no signs of nervousness at the recently held Lok Adalat in Hooghly district. She is arguably the first transgender Lok Adalat judge. 

“ I am doubly marginalised,” Baghui told DH. The odds were stacked against her ever since she was 10-years-old when womanly characteristics started appearing in her behaviour. She was often scolded and sometimes beaten up for her effeminate nature at home. 

Eventually, she got involved in the transgender rights movement. Then in the first week of March, she was approached by the District Legal Service Authority (DLSA) of Hooghly district to be a Lok Adalat judge. Lok Adalats were established under the Legal Services Authorities Act ,1987. Lok Adalat’s are not like conventional courts. Each bench of a Lok Adalat comprises of two member judges and one presiding judge.

Member judges are selected from different spheres of society and are often social activists and eminent personalities. Presiding judges are retired district judges. Both categories of Lok Adalat judges are selected by the concerned secretary of the DSLA.“ Shintu was a key member of the panel of judges which disposed of about 250 cases in a single day. She was never jittery and dealt firmly with all the cases,” said Anirban Ray, secretary of DLSA.

He also said that Baghui’s achievement proved once again that a son of a sex worker and transgender can successfully fulfil any task of the so-called mainstream society.