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Passport Rules violative of Article 21: Delhi HC

Passport Rules violative of Article 21: Delhi HC

Written by Shaurya Mahajan

Today, the Delhi High court in the case of Lasya Kahli V Union Of India declared that the Passport Rules of 1980 requiring a transgender person to produce certificates of gender reassignment surgery for the issuance of a passport with declared sex were prima facie violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.

A division bench consisting of acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla remarked that the particular rule is prima facie in conflict with the Supreme Court judgement in the NALSA case and asked the Central Government to consider amending the same to this effect.

The High Court directed the Central government’s counsel to come up with the instructions on the issue in a week and listed the matter for hearing again on April 22, adding it will not be passed over or adjourned on that date.

The Court was hearing a petition filed by a woman Lasya Kahli challenging the Passport Rules of 1980 to the extent it requires a sex change certificate from a hospital to enable a transgender person to get their passport re-issued with their declared sex (“Female” or “Male”). 

The Court was told that if a person changes their sex from male to female or female to male and wants a passport issued under the “Transgender” category, only a declaration is required. In case they want the passport to be issued under the “Male” or “Female” category, then a medical certificate is required. 

In her petition, Kahli had said that she had changed her name and her gender from male to female in December 2019.

The petitioner argued that the requirement to produce a certificate from the hospital that one “underwent sex-change operation successfully” is arbitrary, illegal, and violative of Article 21 of the Constitution. Asking for any documents regarding her gender reassignment surgery would violate the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. 

The petitioner also contended that insistence on sex reassignment surgery for an individual to identify or change their sex/gender is unnecessary and violative of the choice of the individual concerning undergoing a surgical procedure to reflect the transition.

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