In Landmark Win, Kerala HC Allows Transgender Woman To Join NCC

Hina Haneefa, a 21-year-old transgender woman, can now be inducted into the women’s wing of the NCC unit in Kerala.

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The Kerala High Court on Monday, 15 March, ruled that Hina Haneefa, a 21-year-old transgender woman, can be enrolled in the National Cadet Corps (NCC). Haneefa had challenged a decision of the NCC to exclude her from the women’s wing of the corps.

The judgment was delivered by Justice Anu Sivaraman.

As per the judgment, a transgender person is entitled to be admitted to the NCC in accordance with her self-perceived gender identity. In other words, Haneefa, who identifies as a woman, can be inducted into the female wing of the NCC.

The judgment said that the right to dignity as enshrined in the NALSA judgment, 2014 and the Transgender Act, 2019 trumps the NCC’s argument that the latter does not have rules to enrol transgender persons.

Haneefa had challenged Section 6 of the NCC Act 1948 which classifies enrolment based on two genders – male and female. The Ministry of Defence, which governs the NCC, had argued that it cannot induct a transgender person because the NCC Act does not permit it to.

The judgment is expected to pave the way for transgender persons’ entry into paramilitary and military services.

Who is Hina Haneefa?

Haneefa was born as the only ‘brother’ to three sisters in Malapuram, a small town in Kerala. An active child who loved socialising, she was drawn to the NCC. She donned the khaki scout uniform for the first time to join the NCC’s male cadet wing. In her Class 10, she even acquired an ‘A certificate’ that is given to promising cadets.

Her life changed when she came out to her orthodox Muslim family at 19 years of age.

Soon after, she was forced to move to Bengaluru. Despite several challenges, she managed to collect over Rs 1 lakh in two years, following which she decided to undergo a sex reassignment surgery at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, at the age of 20 years.

Her next move was to Thiruvananthapuram to join University College in one of the two seats reserved in the institute for transgender students. She was eager to join the ranks at the college’s thriving NCC unit – only to be let down.

When she went to enrol, the NCC Associate Officer at the college cited NCC Act 1948 and its classification of cadets as male and female to turn her down.

She made two appeals – one to the NCC unit in the college and second to the Commanding Officer of NCC Thiruvananthapuram – in October 2019.

When her pleas failed to elicit a response from the NCC, she approached the Kerala High Court with a writ in November 2019.

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