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KARNATAKA SEXUAL MINORITIES FORUM VS. STATE OF KARNATAKA

Read the full judgement here
citation:

W.P. 1397/2015

court:

High Court of Karnataka

judges:

Justice S.K. Mukherjee &  Justice Budhial R.B.

KEY FACTS:

The Karnataka Police Act,1963 included a section targeting transgender persons. Section 36A gave the Commissioner of Police the power to prevent, suppress, or control “undesirable activities of eunuchs”. It also allowed the tracking of a “eunuch” who was suspected of committing “unnatural offences” or “kidnapping and emasculating boys”.

The Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum (KSMF), a community organisation of activists, challenged this law. KSMF argued that the Act breached several fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.

ISSUES & DECISION:

The Court had to decide whether Section 36A violated Constitutional rights. KSMF argued that the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 criminalised members of the transgender community. Thus, it violated their fundamental right to equality (Article 14), right to non-discrimination (Article 15), right to freedom of speech and expression (Article 19), and the right to life and liberty (Article 21). The Court termed Section 36A of the Act as arbitrary, discriminatory and a violation of the Constitutional rights of the transgender community.

SIGNIFICANCE:

The Government of Karnataka submitted that it would amend Section 36A of the Karnataka Police Act. The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2016 replaced the word “eunuch” with”person”.

The judgment removed transgender persons from the radar of suspicion and criminalisation. Further, it reaffirmed transgender persons fundamental rights, as protected by the Constitution of India.