The Delhi High Court has granted one month’s time to the city government authorities to decide a representation to legally recognise transgender community as the third gender in bus tickets issued by the DTC.
In case of non-compliance, the managing director of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) shall remain present before it on August 18, the court ordered.
The court’s order came on a contempt petition filed for “wilful non-compliance” of an October 2022 order of a division bench, which had granted four months to the authorities to take a view on the representation.
The order of the division bench had come on a public interest litigation by a person belonging to the transgender community, who sought legal recognition of the community as the third gender in bus tickets and provide free travel for them in DTC buses.
Women travelling in DTC buses are issued pink tickets that allow them to travel for free.
Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora observed that the inaction for more than six months was “certainly protracted” but granted “one last opportunity” to the state authorities to comply with the earlier directions.
“The direction issued by the division bench through GNCTD is limited to taking a decision on the representation of the petitioner and therefore, the respondent’s inaction and non-consideration of the said representation for more than six months is certainly protracted,” the court said in a recent order.
“At request of the learned counsel for the respondents, by way of a last opportunity, the matter is adjourned and the respondents are directed to comply with the orders of the division bench within a period of one month, failing which the managing director of respondent No. 2 (Delhi Transport Corporation) shall remain present in court on the next date of hearing. List on 18.08.2023,” the court ordered.
The counsel for petitioner argued that the indecision of Delhi government was causing grave prejudice to the petitioner who suffered during his bus travel and thus prayed for an expeditious decision on the representation.
The court issued notice to the Delhi government on the contempt petition by the petitioner.
The counsel for the respondents said the representation had been sent to transport authorities of the Delhi government but there were “no instructions with respect to the time required” to decide the same.
On October 19, 2022, the division bench had directed the Delhi government to take a decision within four months on the petitioner’s representation seeking legal recognition of the transgender community as the third gender for the purpose of travelling in buses operated by the DTC.
Lawyer Amit George, appearing for the petitioner, had informed the division bench that while dealing with a similar petition earlier, the high court has already asked the authorities to look into the issue but no decision had been taken.
He had said the petitioner also made a representation in August 2022 to the authorities but has received no reply.
Delhi government counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi had submitted that the government would certainly take a decision in the matter.
In its petition before the division bench, the petitioner had said that at present, the DTC tickets recognise two genders: male and female, and there is no recognition of the persons under the transgender community.
It had stated that the petitioner regularly commutes by buses operated by the DTC and “faces trauma and agony” while purchasing tickets as the transgender community is not recognised as the third gender.
The plea had contended that transgender persons should ideally be recognised as the third gender as they have the right to decide their self-identified gender.
“The Supreme Court (has) upheld the right of the TG Community to decide their self-identified gender and directed the Centre and State Governments to grant legal recognition to their gender identity…Non-recognition of the TG Community as the third gender in the physical tickets issued by the DTC is in the teeth of [The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019] Act, which recognised the legal right of the TG Community to choose their self-perceived gender,” it had said.
The plea had submitted that providing cost-free travel to persons belonging to the transgender community in DTC buses would be a promotion of social equality as they have always been shunned by society and treated as a community of untouchables.
“A reduction in cost of travel for the TG (transgender) Community would help in integrating them into the larger societal framework and give them an opportunity to live with dignity as currently a large number of persons belonging to the community are economically/socially downtrodden,” it had said.