A public interest petition was filed regarding food security of transgender persons under The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA). Section 13 of the NFSA deals with who is considered the “head of the household”. The section is gender-specific. It mandates that the head of the household must be the eldest female, or in her absence, the eldest male, above the age of 18 years.
The section does not recognise transgender persons as “head of household”. This excludes transgender persons from availing ration cards. Thus, Ashish Kumar filed this petition to challenge the NFSA in the High Court of Allahabad.
ISSUES & DECISION:
The issue before the court was whether food security under the NSFA should extend to transgender persons. Ashish Kumar argued that section 13 of the Act failed to address families which do not have female members. He also stated that assigning male or female gender to transgender persons would amount to a violation of constitutional rights. Therefore, he argued that transgender persons should receive separate recognition under the Act.
The Court noted that ration cards were essential to providing food security for all citizens. It also noted that Section 13 of the NSFA was not intended to exclude transgender persons. However, it held that State Governments should address transgender persons’ access to food by incorporating a provision which listed transgender persons as “head of household” under the NSFA
The Court upheld the fundamental right of transgender persons. It addressed the gender-specific nature of an Act essential to accessing fundamental rights.