Why the question of gender change in passport? High court said – no distinction is allowed in constitution, Center should answer

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  • The petitioner referred to the gender change question asked in the passport as a violation of personal freedom found under Article 21 of the Constitution
  • Article 19 (1) (a) of the constitution gives any person the right to choose his gender and disclose it or not

The Madras High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the central government seeking information on gender change surgery (SRS) in the passport form. A social activist from Chennai, Shivkumar, had filed a petition against seeking such information in the passport. The petitioner termed it a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, which protects the personal freedom of citizens.

Sivakumar had appealed to the court to demand the SRS certificate in the passport application as unconstitutional. To this, a Bench of Justices M Satyanarayanan and Justice N Sheshasai, along with the Ministry of External Affairs, has asked the Ministry of Law and Social Justice to file their reply by 12 December.

The question of gender change violates personal freedom
Shivkumar said in his petition- Under Rule 39 of the Passport Act 1980, an applicant was asked for a certificate of the hospital where the gender change surgery was done. He described it as illegal and unconstitutional. The petitioner also referred to the Supreme Court’s decision on the rights of transgenders in his petition. In this judgment, the court said that Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution gives any person the right to choose his gender and to disclose it or not.

Cited Supreme Court decision on transgender
Referring to the problems of transgender people, the petitioner said- the Supreme Court has given clear instructions that it is illegal to ask for a certificate of sex change surgery (SRS), but till 2016, when applying for passport, they were asked for medical certificate. He also said that the SRS certificate is considered non-essential and a violation of private freedom worldwide except in India.

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