COVID relief scheme to Transgender Persons

Manipur HC directs State Government to widely publicise applicability of COVID relief scheme to Transgender Persons

The Manipur High Court has directed the State Government to ensure that it is made known to the general public that the Chief Minister’s Covid-19 Affected Livelihood Support Scheme stands extended to cover those households too wherein either a member or the main bread-earner is a transgender.

A division bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumarand Justice M.V. Muralidaran was hearing a plea filed by Thangjam Santa Singh @Santa Khurai, Secretary of All Manipur Nupi Maanbi Association (AMNMA), which is an association of the transgender community in the State.

The scheme runs under the State’s social welfare department and was launched by Manipur Chief Minister. Under the scheme, eligible beneficiaries can seek financial assistance as well as other benefits. Initially, the eligible beneficiary included street vendors, farmers, daily wage workers, construction site workers, public transport drivers, school van drivers, shop assistants, artisans, weavers, performing artistes and home-based businessmen, among others. 

Soon after the scheme was launched, Khurai filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking inclusion of transgenders as beneficiaries of the scheme. She had alleged that though the State launched the scheme to provide direct transfer of Rs 5,000 to every identified family whose livelihood has been directly affected by Covid-19, however, people from the transgender community could not avail the benefit as the scheme was limited to ration cardholders. Therefore, she had sought the court’s intervention for declaratory relief regarding expanding the beneficiaries to include transgender persons and also those in possession of any of the identity cards.

On Khurai’s plea, the High Court had directed the State Government on September 21 to modify the notification pertaining to the scheme to include members of the transgender community within its ambit.

However, it was brought to the High Court’s attention that despite court’s order of September this year, no steps had been taken by the State Government to publicize the fact that the subject scheme stands extended to cover households, wherein a transgender is either a member or the main bread-earner. The Counsel for the Petitioner pointed out that it was also not in the general public’s knowledge that the date for filing applications for the subject scheme had also been extended beyond August 7, 2021, due to which eligible beneficiaries were not submitting their applications.

Taking note of these submissions, the Hon’ble Court directed the authorities concerned to ensure that it is made known to the general public that the scheme stands extended to cover those households wherein either a member or the main bread-earner is a transgender so that they can come forward to make their applications to avail appropriate benefit under the scheme before a stipulated date. The Court issued the abovesaid directions and asked the State authorities to file an affidavit in this regard without fail by the next date of hearing i.e., January 25, 2022. 

– Written by Vaishali Jain

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