The Petitioner, Anjali Guru Sanjana Jaan, is a trans woman. She submitted her nomination form to contest for a village panchayat seat from a ward reserved for women-general category. The Returning Officer rejected her nomination because she was transgender. It was stated that there was no ward reserved for transgender persons in the village elections. The Petitioner approached the High Court, asking the Returning Officer to accept her nomination, and to assert her right to opt for a self-perceived gender identity.
ISSUE AND DECISION:
The issue before the Court was whether transgender women could contest for elections from wards reserved for women.
The Court held that the Constitution provided the right to self-identify one’s gender, as recognised in NALSA v Union of India. It also cited section 4(2) of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 which provided for this right in legislation. The Court held that the Returning Officer was ignorant of the law and directed them to accept the Petitioner’s nomination form and permitted her to contest in the elections.
The judgment reiterated and enforced the right to self-identify gender, especially when applied to core civic rights such as the right to contest elections and avail reservations.
It has also recognised that the Petitioner can claim reservations if they are provided for transgender persons in the future. However, in its reasoning, the Court seemed to place some reliance on a statement by the Petitioner that she would ‘not switch over to the male gender under any circumstances anytime in future during her lifetime.’ It also stated that she would not be ‘driven by opportunism’ and change her gender identity.