Mulla Faizal was born with intersex variance and assigned female at birth. As he grew older, he developed more male characteristics. He underwent a medical examination which declared that his genes were more in accordance with that of men. He was advised to undergo surgical procedures to enhance his masculinity.
After undergoing surgery, he sought a name change in his birth certificate. However, the District Registrar (Births and Deaths) rejected his application. It stated that it was not mandated by any law to make a change in birth certificates.
Faizal filed a civil suit against the Registrar, which was dismissed by a single judge. He then filed an appeal before the High Court of Gujarat
ISSUES & DECISION:
The Court had to decide whether Faizal was entitled to change his name and gender in his birth certificate. Faizal argued that this was not a case pertaining to “transsexualism” (sic.). He claimed that he had been registered as a female at birth due to certain “deformities”. On this basis, he argued that his request for name and gender change should be accepted.
The District Registrar (Births and Deaths) argued that under Section 15 of The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 , changes are only allowed in case of erroneous entries.
The Court held that the Registrar’s argument was unreasonable because in this case, the entry could be considered erroneous due to birth defects. It held that the Registrar had a duty to make the corrections requested. It further directed the Registrar to make necessary inquiries and seek medical opinion before granting or refusing changes in the register.
Thus, the Court set aside the lower court order and allowed the appeal. It granted the authorities 3 months to conduct any inquiries required and register the new name and gender.
This case was significant because the Court here recognised a distinction between intersex persons and transgender persons. It also placed an obligation on the authorities to change name and gender on birth certificates.
However, it is crucial to note that this case preceded NALSA v. Union of India, where the Supreme Court recognised the right of all individuals to self-identify their gender.