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Rare legislative act: Rajya Sabha passes private bill on transgenders

Though the Bill would not become law until the government decides to move an official Bill, the gesture was touching and instantly became a talking point.

Apr 25, 2015, 12.26 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha, which has been a divided house on most issues in the last few days, came together on the issue of ensuring rights to transgenders by unanimously passing a Private Members' Bill — an event that last took place 45 years back.

Though the Bill would not become law until the government decides to move an official Bill, the gesture was touching and instantly became a talking point. However, there are indications that this may be the end of the issue as government sees a lot of “impractical aspects” in the Bill and will not bring a government Bill on it. The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 moved by Tiruchi Siva of DMK was passed after discussion in which the House expressed support to the cause. The Bill is aimed at providing for the “formulation and implementation of a comprehensive national policy for ensuring overall development of the transgender persons”. “It is after 45 years that a Private Members’ Bill has been passed... It envisages that a national commission with statutory powers on the lines of the National Commission for SCs, STs and women should be established for transgenders,” Siva said outside Parliament House after passage of the Bill.

The last time a Private Members' Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha was in 1970. The Bill also states that there should be reservations for transgenders in educational institutions from primary level up. However, this Bill would not become a law as — unlike a government Bill — a Private Members’ Bill does not go to the other House after passage. It will become law only if the government moves a Bill on the issue. Minister of State for Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman lamented that there are certain impractical aspects due to which it cannot be moved as a government Bill.

“Government is sensitive to the rights of transgenders and what was seen in the Rajya Sabha was a sense of the House that it supports the cause. But there are some impractical aspects in the Bill due to which it cannot be implemented in letter and spirit,” she said.

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