The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has allowed transgender persons to contest gram panchayat elections from the women’s category.
Interpreting the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the bench headed by Justice Ravindra Ghuge observed that a transgender person has the right to choose their self-perceived gender identity in addition to the right to be recognised.
The decision came on the basis of a petition filed by Anjali Guru Sanjana Jaan, who had chosen ‘women’ in gender category in the nomination papers while filing nomination to contest elections from the reserved ward for general category women. However, the returning officer had canceled the petitioner’s form for gram panchayat election in Jalgaon district.
In the petition, the decision of the Returning Officer on December 31, 2020 was challenged by Anjali. Her nomination letter was rejected because the petitioner was a transgender person, and there is no provision of transgender category in the form of the current gram panchayat election.
“In the present case, the petitioner has opted for the female gender as her self-perceived gender identity and makes a solemn statement, which is recorded as the statement made to the Court, that henceforth in her lifetime she would not switch over to the male gender driven by opportunism and would continue to opt for the female gender, in future, save and except if there is a reservation provided for transgender in public life," the Court has said.
The bench, while passing the order, said, “The Returning Officer is likely to be unaware of this law and must have been in a dilemma while deciding the issue of acceptance of the nomination form of the petitioner."
It, therefore canceled the decision of the Returning Officer to accept the nomination form and allowed the petitioner to contest from the ward and category, which she had selected in the nomination papers.