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Indian Government Removes Surgical Certificate Requirement for Gender Change in Passports

Last Updated on May 1, 2024 by News Desk

Introduction:


In a significant development, the Indian government has decided to waive the requirement for surgical certificates for individuals seeking to change their gender identity on passports. This decision, announced before the Madras High Court, marks a crucial step in easing the process for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in obtaining accurate documentation reflective of their identity. The move comes following a constitutional challenge and a lengthy legal battle that underscores the importance of upholding individual rights and inclusivity.

Issue:
The central issue at hand was the constitutional challenge mounted against the Passport Rules of 1980, specifically contesting the necessity of surgical certificates for gender identity changes on passports. The petitioner argued that this requirement infringed upon the fundamental rights enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty.

Rule:


The response from the Centre’s senior standing counsel revealed a significant policy shift. According to the updated guidelines presented, individuals can now declare their gender identity through sworn affidavits, with surgical certificates no longer being mandatory. Moreover, the requirement for police verification remains intact, ensuring due diligence in passport issuance.

Analysis:


The decision to eliminate the surgical certificate requirement represents a significant step towards recognizing and respecting the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. The judiciary’s intervention in addressing discrepancies in the guidelines further reinforces the commitment to fairness and equality in the passport issuance process.

Conclusion:


With the closure of the public interest litigation petition following the Centre’s assurance to extend the waiver to all gender identity changes, the outcome underscores a victory for inclusivity and human rights. By adopting more progressive and accommodating measures, the government has taken a commendable step towards ensuring that all individuals, regardless of gender identity, have equal access to essential documentation.

Written by — Athi Venkatesh AVD

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