The Madras High Court has directed the state of Tamil Nadu to ensure that all transgender persons in the state are vaccinated within a period of three months.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P. D. Audikesavalu yesterday heard a PIL filed by transgender rights activist Grace Banu Ganeshan, seeking extension of Covid-19 cash relief of Rs 4000 to transgender persons in Tamil Nadu, who do not possess Ration Cards, either on the basis of their transgender identity cards, or any other government ID.
The petitioner further prayed to conduct awareness programmes for transgender persons in the state of Tamil Nadu regarding Covid-10 vaccination, especially to clarify and assure them on the safety of vaccines for those who are undergoing hormone therapy and other treatment and to conduct special vaccination drives for transgender persons in Tamil Nadu by assisting them to register online and get special vaccination slots in local community health centres.
The Chief Justice is of the opinion that the matter pertains to the cash relief given to several classes of persons on account of the suffering faced due to the pandemic.
The Court noted that the State appears to have gone out of its way to ensure that transgenders receive the first installment of cash relief of Rs.2,000/- each. A problem arose at the initial stage since several of the transgenders were not registered. Again, at the request of the court, the State waived the requirement of registration cards to be produced and extended the aid to eligible transgenders on the basis of any form of identification card. There is no grievance as to the distribution of the first tranche of Rs.2,000/- by way of cash relief.
The petitioner hoped that the second installment of a further Rs.2,000/- would also be distributed to all transgenders without insisting on formalities, like in case of the first installment.
The State, through the Advocate General, assured the court that the same protocol would be followed and all eligible transgenders seeking aid will be duly granted the second installment of Rs 2,000, along with the release of such second installment to other classes of persons.
It further demanded the state to adopt some special measures for vaccination of transgenders.
“While it may not be ideal to create groups and sub-groups and require the state to deal with every group or subgroup as a special class, it may also be noted that there can be no reasonable apprehension on part of the transgenders in this state that they would be discriminated against when it came to vaccination,” the Court observed.
The Bench held that it will be open to the State to provide special windows to transgenders or other classes of persons at any place or places so that such vulnerable sections receive their vaccinations as expeditiously as possible.
The High Court disposed of a PIL with a “hope that the second installment, which is due to the transgenders, would be released as seamlessly as the first installment and that the transgenders would all be vaccinated within a period of three months from date.”