The Supreme Court stayed the arrest of a transgender rights activist by the Manipur police in connection with social media posts she made about the alleged misappropriation of the transgender persons' welfare fund by the social welfare department, and also barred the Manipur police from filing any new cases based on such posts.
A bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta passed the interim order while issuing notice in the writ petition filed by Santha Khurai, a transgender woman seeking protection from Manipur police actions and quashing of the police summons issued to her.
The petitioner claimed that the police's activities were illegal, citing Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which prohibits police officials from summoning women or children to places other than their houses.
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On September 1, 2023, the petitioner made social media posts claiming the misappropriation of transgender welfare funding and programmes in the state of Manipur. In response to these tweets, a team of male police officers searched the petitioner's parents' house on the morning of September 3, 2023.
In view of the Supreme Court's decisions in NALSA v. Union of India, the petitioner believes that transgender women are entitled to the same safeguards under Section 160 of the CrPC. The NALSA decision recognises transgender rights, gender identity, and the significance of preventing discrimination against transgender people.
Furthermore, the petitioner claims that ordering her to come before a police station puts her in danger of being harmed, infringing her rights to bodily autonomy and safety.
The petition cited the Supreme Court ruling in Nandini Satpathy v. P.L. Dani (1978) 2 SCC 424, which emphasised the necessity of police personnel following the law and not disregarding measures in place to protect women and children.
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