Distribute COVID-19 cash relief to the community without insisting on ration cards: petitioner
The Madras High Court on Thursday recorded the submission of Advocate-General R. Shunmugasundaram that the State government would consider a plea to distribute COVID-19 cash relief of ₹4,000 to the transgender community, sympathetically, without insisting on ration cards.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy recorded the submission made during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition filed by transgender rights activist Grace Banu and adjourned the case to June 7 for the government to report the progress made in this regard.
In an affidavit filed through her counsel C. Prabhu, the litigant said there were more than 50,000 transpersons in the State, though the available government data showed that there were only 11,449 transpersons, of whom 2,541 had been issued ration cards.
Pointing out that the government had announced a COVID-19 cash relief of ₹4,000 to all rice ration cardholders, and had begun distributing the first instalment of ₹2,000 to each of them, the petitioner said the restriction that the relief would be given only to ration cardholders would lead to exclusion of many transpersons who did not possess ration cards due to various reasons, including a delay on the part of the Civil Supplies Department in issuing the cards.
The petitioner recalled that during the first wave of COVID-19, the State had distributed cash relief of ₹1,000 to not just rice ration cardholders, but also transpersons without ration cards.
The litigant added that hardly any transpersons had been issued identity cards, ever since the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019 and the statutory rules framed thereunder in 2020 had come into force.
Even before the 2019 enactment and the statutory rules came into force, only 6,553 transpersons had been issued identity cards in the State, and the others could not be expected to obtain ration cards without producing identity cards, the petitioner said.
It was also brought to the notice of the court that transpersons had several doubts over COVID-19 vaccination since they were either on hormone therapy or undergoing sex reassignment surgeries.
Therefore, awareness programmes must be conducted to dispel doubts on vaccines, the litigant said.
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