The standing committee on social justice and empowerment has sought a three-month extension for submitting its report on the The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016. The panel was supposed to submit its report to Lok Sabha on the final day of the winter session Friday. The bill provides for certain safeguards to transgenders against discrimination in employment, education, property rights and heath-care services and for a jail term of six months to two years for offenders.
Panel chairperson and Lok Sabha member Ramesh Bains said the committee is still examining several issues presented before them by transgender groups across Maharashtra, Goa and Rajasthan. “We will hold another meeting in Delhi soon to resolve these issues. Some of the main issues that have come before us so far include the difficulties faced when they want to change their name or their need to access public toilets,” said Bains.
He added a major point of contention is whether the system of Guru Pratha, in which third-sex persons are often taken under the tutelage of gurus, should be allowed to continue. “One section feels it gives them a sense of security. On the other hand, educated sections of the community feel this system is exploitative in many ways,” said Bains.
The bill had its origin in a private member’s bill introduced by DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, which went on to become the first such bill passed by Rajya Sabha in 45 years. However, the Social Justice Ministry gave an undertaking that it would soon introduce its version of the bill which it did during the monsoon session of 2016. It was referred to the standing committee soon after.
Some of the main contentions with the bill have been that it does not have provisions for granting scholarships, financial assistance to parents, and pensions for the elderly, nor does it provide for reservation in jobs under the OBC quota.
Many of these steps are part of the private member’s bill as well as the suggestions made by an expert committee constituted by the ministry. Another point of contention with transgender activists is that the definitions for key terms such as transgenders or discrimination is either incorrect or missing.
Port Authorities Bill
The Major Port Authorities Bill, aimed at providing greater autonomy in decision-making to 12 major ports and setting up a board for each, was introduced in Lok Sabha Friday by MoS (Road Transport & Shipping) P Radhakrishnan. It would replace the Major Port Trusts Act 1963. “This will empower the major ports to perform with greater efficiency on account of full autonomy in decision-making and by modernising the institutional structure…” says the statement of objects.