Delhi HC seeks Centre’s stand on plea to extend Section 377 provisions to third gender

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued a notice to the Ministry of Law and Justice on the petition filed by assistant public prosecutor Jamshed Ansari.

The Delhi High Court Monday sought to know the stand of the Centre on a PIL demanding that the application of Section 377 of the IPC, which prescribes punishment for unnatural sex with any man, woman and animal, should extend to those accused of sexually assaulting transgender/third gender persons.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued a notice to the Ministry of Law and Justice on the petition filed by assistant public prosecutor Jamshed Ansari.

The plea states that due to loopholes in Section 377, those accused of sexually assaulting transgender persons are being let off as the section has no mention of the third gender.

The court asked the Centre to file its reply by the next date of hearing - January 17, 2020.

Ansari, in his public interest litigation (PIL), filed through advocate Gaurav Kohl, said, “Such discrimination against an individual on the basis of gender identity is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual, which is against the mandate of...the Constitution of India and the law laid down by the Supreme Court...”.

The Supreme Court had recognized transgender persons as the third gender in a landmark ruling, saying it was addressing a “human rights issue”.

The plea stated that, after the apex court judgment, the transgender/third gender persons are entitled to fundamental rights enshrined under the Constitution of India and are also entitled to the protection of all laws within the territory of India.

On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court had ruled that the application of Section 377 to consensual homosexual sex between adults was unconstitutional, “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary,”. It remains in force in cases related to sex with minors, non-consensual sexual acts, and bestiality.