Human Rights Law Network

Media Reports

Supreme Court recognizes transgenders as 'third gender'

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A recent Supreme Court verdict has empowered the transgender community by giving them not only the right to self-determination of gender but also cultural, social and political rights as guaranteed by the Constitution to all citizens. The lengthy verdict, however, fails to throw light on the sexual rights of the community. The judgment declined to delve into section 377 of the IPC, that calls homosexuality “unnatural” and makes it a criminal offence punishable upto life, despite acknowledging that the colonial law is widely used to harass transgender persons.

Though the apex court has ruled that each person has the right to determine one’s own sexual orientation and gender identity, it fails to talk about the right to choose one’s sexual partner. The third gender cannot be discriminated against under the statue now as far as general rights are concerned. However, the third gender’s sexual activities continue to remain not just unlawful but criminal offences. “Trans persons can now have their own public toilets but can still not have legitimate sex. A trans person would indulge in unnatural sex (under sec 377) as the partner would either be another trans or a man or woman,” said a transgender who did not wish to be named.

Lawyers and LGBT activists say that the case in question — National Legal Services Authority vs. UOI — dealt only with general rights of transgenders and not sexual rights. They, however, are of the view that the judgment has given a boost to the movement against section 377 and will definitely help in decriminalising homosexuality. In July 2009, the Delhi high court had decriminalised homosexuality by striking down sec 377 of the IPC. However, the HC verdict was quashed by the top court in December last year. Later, the SC dismissed a review plea and a curative petition is now pending before it.

Colin Gonsalves, senior advocate and founder of Human Rights Law Network said that “This SC judgment is basically inconsistent with another judgment of the SC (recriminalising homosexuality). This is contradictory. The two verdicts have taken totally different views. But the latest verdict will definitely have an impact on the curative petition (pending in SC) for decriminalising homosexuality,”


Dalits flee Haryana village after four women raped, seek justice in Delhi

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Over 80 Dalit families from a village in Haryana have fled to Delhi after they were allegedly threatened by Jats for protesting the abduction and rape of four women. The Dalits are from Bhagana in Hisar district. They alleged that four of their women were abducted on March 25 by five men. The women were sedated, raped and dumped at a railway station in Bathinda, Punjab. Police arrested the five men but the Dalits said the Jats began intimidating the families of the victims and that’s what forced them to leave the village. “All that we had was our honour. The Jats took it away from us. Who will marry our daughters now? The police may have arrested the five men but we think they will be out soon,” the mother of one of the victims said.

Manish Chaudhary, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Hisar, said: “Four girls, two of them minors, were allegedly raped. We have registered an FIR against the five accused. Two of them are related to the village sarpanch. While two have been charged with rape, three have been booked for kidnapping. Medical examination of two girls has confirmed rape. We are still waiting for the forensic report.”The Dalits alleged that they were warned by the Jats of the village not to report the matter to police. The families of the victims have decided to move the Supreme Court for rehabilitation and compensation. A petition, being readied with the help of Human Rights Law Network, will be filed on Monday.


Why seriously affected clinical trial patients not compensated? Supreme Court asks

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NEW DELHI: After ensuring that multinational pharmaceutical majors compensate those who die during clinical trials of their new drugs, the Supreme Court on April 22 2014 pulled up the Centre for not forcing the sponsors to provide similar relief to those suffering serious adverse effects during such trials. Taking up PILs seeking stringent yet transparent guidelines and norms for conduct of clinical trials in India, a bench of Justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph asked additional solicitor general Sidharth Luthra for details on compensation paid to patients adversely affected during clinical trial of new drugs.

The health ministry had responded to allegations by NGO, Swasthya Adhikar Manch, that Indians were used as guinea pigs by foreign pharmaceutical majors for human trials of their new drugs and said of the 57,303 enrolled subjects, 39,022 completed the trials. "Serious adverse events of deaths during the clinical trials during the said period were 2,644, out of which 80 deaths were found to be attributable to the clinical trials," the ministry had said. Luthra said kin of all 80 patients, who died because of adverse effects, were compensated by the sponsors.


Report on Manipur killings examined at highest level: Centre

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The Centre on 9 April, 2013, submitted before the Supreme Court that findings of the apex court appointed committee's report on extra judicial killings in Manipur are being examined at highest level.

Appearing before a bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam, Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhat said the Santosh Hegde committee report is seen at highest level in Army headquarters and Home and Defence ministries.

He said that the Central government is absolutely committed that no fake encounter should take place in Manipur and equally aggrieved by the incidents that had taken place.


Extra-judicial killings: SC slams Manipur over response

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The Supreme Court on 24 Nov 2012 questioned the "orientation" of the Manipur government over extra-judicial killings in the state and reprimanded it for drawing a parallel with the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, which are already under the court's scanner over contentious encounters.

Manipur, in its response to a PIL which alleged 1,528 extra-judicial killings in last 30 years in the state, had requested the court to consider this matter along with two other pending cases relating to encounter killings.

In one case, the SC is adjudicating a plea over 99 encounters in Maharashtra between 1995 and 1997 while in the other, the Gujarat government has filed a writ asking for framing a uniform national policy to independently investigate all the encounter cases in the country and further direct such an agency to probe all encounters in the past 10 years.

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HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.