This blogpost pertains to the December hearings in the S. Sushma case. To recap, the case originally concerned a lesbian couple that had run away from their homes to be together. They approached the Madras High Court as they were being harassed by the police and their parents although they were adults who had left of their own volition. Through a writ of mandamus, the court ordered the police to close the missing persons cases that had been filed by the parents of the couple, and passed other orders to central and state governments, and regulatory bodies (June order). The orders are wide-ranging and cover a host of issues that arise when queer life intersect with societal authority structures. The court has kept the case open and hears it from time to time to gauge the progress on its orders and issue new ones, in a PIL-style continuing mandamus.
This is Part I of a two part blog. In this part, I will focus on certain substantive matters dealt with by the court in December. The next part will carry a summary of compliance measures taken by various authorities.
The October Order
This blogpost concerns the hearing on 4th October, 2021 in the S.Sushma case.
The August Order
In this blogpost, I will provide an update on the subsequent hearings in the S. Sushma case. Summarily, that case concerned a lesbian couple who had run away from their homes and had filed a writ of mandamus in the Madras High Court seeking protection from harassment, both, from the police, and their parents. The court had ordered accordingly (‘June Order’). A detailed discussion of that order is here. Further, the court had also issued certain directions to the police, centre and state authorities, and various regulatory bodies. The court treated the case as a continuing mandamus and provided a future date to check up on the implementation of its directions.
In the next few blogposts, I will scrutinize what came to pass in those subsequent hearings. This blogpost concerns the hearing on 31st August, 2021.
On the 15th of March, 2021, a single bench of the Kerala High Court issued a writ of mandamus to the National Cadet Corps to permit the applicant, a transgender woman, to apply as a candidate under the female category. This case provided an opportunity for the interpretation of Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights)Act, 2019 (2019 Act). Specifically, this case was crucial in holding that there were two rights granted under the 2019 Act: gender recognition and gender identity. They were distinct and came into operation at different times. In this blog, I will summarize the facts of the case, the arguments of the parties, and the decision of the court.
A COUPLE, THE PARENTS, AND THE POLICE
In early June, 2021, the Madras High Court gave a truly unique order. The occasion arose when a lesbian couple ran away from their parental homes. As is often seen in such cases, the parents of the two women filed missing complaints with the police. The police interrogated the couple at their residence. They failed to close the case upon learning that the women were adults and had left their homes of their own volition, once again, not an uncommon occurrence in such cases. Feeling threatened for their safety both by the police and their parents, the women filed for a writ of mandamus before the Madras High Court. A writ of mandamus is an instrument which directs a public body to perform its duty. They prayed for a writ directing the police not to harass them and to protect them from threat and danger from their parents. The government advocate who represented the police confirmed that the police will be instructed to provide protection, no longer interfere with the petitioners, and close the missing cases immediately. The court ordered accordingly.
On the 2nd of February 2021, a single judge of the Calcutta High Court, through a writ of mandamus, directed the administrators of the Joint CSIR-UGC NET examination to institute certain affirmative action measures for transgender candidates. The examination is a means to determine eligibility for Junior Research Fellowships and Lectureships/Assistant Professorships at Indian Universities.
The petitioner’s appointment to the post of Home Guard was cancelled after a video of him was made ‘viral’ by someone. From the rudimentary facts that appear in the final judgment, it seems that the petitioner was engaged in public displays of affection with a person of the same sex. When this video was seen by his employer, the District Commandant of the Home Guard, his appointment was cancelled. This cancellation was challenged in the Allahabad High Court and was duly reversed.
On the 20th of January, 2021, a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court granted a protection order to two women in a live-in relationship. I have previously argued that protection orders are privacy enhancing tools for queer women and transgender men in live-in relationships. Recorded cases show that live-in relationship related litigation is a unique category of litigation that queer women and transgender women face in the queer community. In this blog, I will discuss why protection orders can be an important legal instrument for queer women in live-in relationships and then specifically discuss the case at hand and the protection order granted therein. Protection orders can be utilized not just by queer couples but more generally by members of the queer community.