Form prescribed by the State Government under National Food Security Act, 2013 duly entitles the transgenders to avail food security

Allahabad High Court: Delivering a praiseworthy decision in the direction of upliftment of transgenders, the Division Bench of D.Y Chandrachud, C.J. and Shri Narayan Shukla, J., held that, although Section 13 of the National Food Security Act, 2013 has not specifically incorporated a provision that includes a transgender as the head of the family, this however should not be read as an exclusion of the transgender to apply for a ration card. In the Form prescribed by the State Government under the NFS Act, 2013, where Serial No. 12 of the Form specifically requires the applicant to mention the gender under the category of “male/female/other”, wherein “other” clearly refers to a transgender, therefore duly entitling them to avail food security. The Bench further observed that the object and purpose of Section 13 was mainly to promote women empowerment, however in the light of the guidelines laid down in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India, (2014) 5 SCC 438, the Parliament may consider to incorporate a situation in Section 13 where a transgender is the head of the family.

The present PIL filed by Ashish Kumar Misra raised 2 major questions of importance; firstly relating to the validity of the provisions of Section 13 of the NFS Act on the ground that the statutory provision while recognizing the eldest woman member as the head of the household does not contemplate a situation where there may be no woman in the family and secondly the issue of availability of food security to transgenders.

Deliberating over the first issue, the Court observed that by enacting Section 13 the Parliament recognized the roles and responsibilities which are discharged by women, and their role has been conferred a statutory status and recognition by providing that the eldest woman, above the age of eighteen in a household, shall be regarded as the head of the household. Also Section 13(2) of the NFS Act already envisages a situation raised by the petitioner. Upon the second issue, the Court observed that the form prescribed by the State Government, duly takes into account the concerns of the transgender population by recognizing their entitlement to seek access to food security and to avail of the status of the head of a household. Ashish Kumar Misra v. Bharat Sarkar, 2015 SCC OnLine All 1053 decided on 15.04.2015

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