Don’t treat them like criminals – Bombay HC directs Mumbai police to protect trans person

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court, on Saturday, directed the Mumbai police to protect a 23-year-old person identifying as a transgender male, from being forced to leave the city at the instance of the parents. The court also directed the police not to take any coercive steps against them (“they” is the petitioner preferred gender pronoun).

A division bench of Justice SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar granted interim relief in a plea filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner said they apprehend a threat to their safety from their parents and the police.

“You have to protect them. They are also citizen of this country, and they can travel wherever they want. How can they be asked to go out of Mumbai?… Don’t treat them as criminals,” Justice Shinde said.

Advocate Vijay Hiremath, for the 23-year-old, informed the court that the petitioner had come to Mumbai against the parents’ will for the second time in March, and the parents, with the police’s help are trying to track them down. The petitioner is in hiding as their phones are also being tapped, he added.

After the State informed the court that the parents had filed a missing complaint in Mysore, the court said the petitioner hadn’t committed any crime to be treated this way.

“They are not offenders. They have not committed any offence. Are you now going to obey the Karnataka Police’s orders? We are directing the police not to harass them. If anything happens, it is going to be the police’s responsibility,” Justice Shinde said.

Hiremath said the petitioner, an aspiring choreographer, had come to Mumbai first in January 2020 but Mysore Police and Versova Police officers, assisted by the petitioner’s father, took them back to Mysore. The petitioner was then pressured to change their gender identity and sexual orientation.

However, the petitioner returned to Mumbai in March, this year and the family is trying to track them down since.

“The parents are forcing them. They called me as well. Therefore, I have submitted their address in a sealed envelope. This is completely against the dignity of an individual,” he said.

The court then granted the interim reliefs sought and listed the matter for hearing on August 8.