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Ex-wife’s demand for alimony from transperson denied
Observing that it was the responsibility of the court to consider the rights of transpersons, a metropolitan magistrate rejected the plea moved by a woman seeking maintenance from her husband, who is now a transperson. The court added that marriage alone would not entitle a woman for alimony from her husband under the Hindu Marriage Act.
The petition was filed by one Manimekhalai seeking alimony from Radha (as she is known now) under Section 20 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
She said Ramanujam (the transperson’s earlier name) had gotten married to her on February 1, 1998, at Mylapore, without disclosing the information about his sexuality. “From the very first day, the couple couldn’t consummate the marriage due to Radha’s issues,” her petition stated. She alleged that he used to abuse her physically and mentally.
After the petition was filed, Radha approached the District Legal Secretary I Jayanthi, who helped her with legal aid. Radha submitted that she was not in a position to provide alimony, stating that she was surviving on government aid and by begging.
Accepting Radha’s submission that she could not pay alimony to Manimekhalai, IX Metropolitan Magistrate S Mohanambal ruled that the fact that they got married under the Hindu Marriage Act cannot be the only criteria to seek alimony.
“Radha has come forward and informed the court that she is living as a transgender person and submitted identification card issued by Tamil Nadu Transgender Association. The court can’t accept the submission that she is acting as transgender to avoid the alimony. Radha, who was born as a male and lived with a male body by concealing her true feelings, and who got married without any interest, have finally mustered courage and came out in public as transgender,” the judge said. “Recently, the government have accepted the fact that transgender persons are part of the society and has been issuing identification cards like Aadhaar, providing educational assistance and employment,” the judge noted.
Citing Supreme Court order in the case, National Legal Service Authority Vs Union of India and others, the judge said that it was the responsibility of the court to consider the rights of the third gender and accepted the submission of Radha that she was not earning and surviving on government aide.