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Kerala High Court Seeks State Response on Transwoman's Plea for Compensation Over Denied Gender-Affirming Care

Last Updated: 14-05-2024 04:31:30pm
Kerala High Court Seeks State Response on Transwoman's Plea for Compensation Over Denied Gender-Affirming Care

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday sought the response of the State government on a plea moved by a transwoman seeking ₹10 lakh as compensation from the State for denying her gender-affirming care in jail. [Ahana v. State of Kerala]When the matter came up before Justice Johnson John on Tuesday, the judge noted that the petitioner-transwoman's affidavit was not attached to her petition.The petitioner's counsel submitted that it has been difficult to meet the petitioner in jail so as to get her signature on the affidavit. The counsel assured the Court that she would ensure that the same is done in a week's time.The Public Prosecutor representing the State government assured the Court that the jail authorities will be directed to provide the petitioner with necessary medical care."Considering the fact that the matter relates to the treatment of the petitioner who is in custody, and the submission of the learned counsel of the petitioner that the petitioner will file the required affidavit within one week, the registry is directed to number the petition. Learned public prosecutor takes notice for respondents 1 to 4 and seeks time to get instructions. The learned Public Prosecutor submitted that necessary directions will be given to the jail superintendent of the Sub-Jail, Kakkanad to provide necessary medical aid to the petitioner," the Court recorded in its interim order.The petitioner-transwoman was accused in a crime involving offences punishable under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) for allegedly possessing around 193 grams of MDMA.The petitioner is also a sex worker. She claimed that she was arrested along with the first accused when they were engaged in sexual intercourse. She said had no prior acquaintance with the first accused and was unaware that he was carrying any contraband, she added.The petitioner alleged that since November 29, 2023, the day she was arrested, all gender-affirming treatments including hormone therapy were denied by police authorities. She said that this has crushed her mental health and she is now in a dangerously suicidal state.In April this year, the petitioner approached the trial court for medical bail. However, the report called for by the court from jail authorities has not yet been submitted.It was the petitioner's contention that the State's denial of care is violative not only of the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, but also international standards of medical care for transgender persons and prisoners in general.Citing the landmark judgments of the Supreme Court in the NALSA case and Supriyo Chakraborty v. Union of India, the petitioner argued that withholding gender-affirming care violates her fundamental and human rights.The petitioner argued that since she is an undertrial prisoner and not a convict, she has the right to be presumed innocent. Regardless, as per the Nelson Mandela Rules of the United Nations, providing healthcare to prisoners is the duty of the State, she contended.On these grounds, the petitioner said that she should be paid ₹10 lakh compensation from the State government for the denial of medical treatment causing her mental trauma and increasing her gender dysphoria.She also submitted that directions should be issued to the authorities to immediately provide medical aid with a specialised endocrinologist and queer affirmative psychiatrist.In her plea, the petitioner also raised concerns regarding her arrest arguing that the authorities had failed to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court in Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of West Bengal & Ors..Therefor, she also sought directions to the State government to formulate a sex workers' policy in line with the top court's guidelines.The matter will be heard next on May 17.The petitioner was represented by advocates Padma Lakshmi, Athira CK, and Radhika Krishna.

TAGS: Kerala High Court transwoman compensation gender-affirming care State government plea Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act


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