On October 30, the Supreme Court had it examine whether a transgender woman who has undergone sex reassignment surgery can be called an “aggrieved person” reading Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act 2005.
To examine the issue, Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Vikram allowed an appeal filed by the husband of a trans woman against a Bombay High Court judgment which said that a person who has exercised her right to identify herself as a woman can be considered an aggrieved person under Section 2( a) Act on Domestic Violence from 2005.
The case centered on a trans woman and her male partner who married in July 2016. However, differences between the couple led the trans woman to file a claim under the 2005 Act, seeking temporary maintenance.
Subsequently, in 2019, the trial court ordered that the trans woman be paid 12,000 rupees every month. The husband appealed the 2019 order, but the court dismissed the appeal. The husband then approached the Bombay High Court seeking relief. The applicant’s husband was of the opinion that a trans person does not really fall under the definition of “injured person”. He claimed that this right was proven to “women” in family relationships. Moreover, the husband argued that as per Section 7 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, no certificate had been issued to her and therefore she should not be considered a woman under the Domestic Violence Act.
Defining the injured person
Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act 2005 defines “aggrieved person” as “any woman who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who claims to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent”.
According to section 2(f) of the Domestic Violence Act, a “family relationship” is a relationship between two people who live or at one time lived together in the same household if they are related to each other by marriage, consanguinity, adoption, marriage or family members who live together as a joint family.
The law from 2005 was passed with the aim of “more effective protection of women’s rights guaranteed by the Constitution”. The law contains provisions on monetary compensation that the defendant can pay to the injured person by order of the misdemeanor judge, in order “to cover the costs and losses suffered by the injured person as a result of domestic violence”. In the above case, a transwoman who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2016 filed a request for temporary support under the Domestic Violence Act, alleging that the transwoman had changed her gender from transgender to female and therefore fell under the definition of “aggrieved person”.
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