HC issues notice to Centre on PIL over passport rules

Madras High Court

A Chennai resident has moved the Madras High Court, seeking to declare passport rules which require submission of Sex Reassignment Surgery certificate for gender determination as "unconstitutional", saying they violate Article 21 of the Constitution that deals with personal liberty.

A division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee issued notice to Union Ministries of Law and Justice and External Affairs, returnable by December 12, on the petition of Sivakumar TD.

The petitioner, who has been actively involved in furthering the interests of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer) community, referred to a Supreme Court judgment relating to the rights of transgenders in the plea.

He said the judgment had authoritatively held that any insistence for Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) for declaring one's gender was 'immoral' and 'illegal'.

The judgment also held that a person's right to choose and express a gender identity fell within the ambit of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Alluding to Passport Rules 1980, with reference to change of sex in their passport and list of documents to be provided, Sivakumar said Rule 39 sought from an applicant certification from the hospital where the sex change surgery was performed.

He contended that the rule was illegal and unconstitutional.

Highlighting the plight of transgender people who applied for passports as late as 2016, the petitioner said though the apex court had laid down clear directives that insistence on SRS certificate was illegal, they were required to produce a medical certificate for it.

He submitted that world over insistence on SRS certificate was held to be 'unnecessary' and 'violative' of the choice of the individual.

The petitioner sought the intervention of the high court to declare passport rules requiring production of SRS certificate as unconstitutional and being violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.

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