SC asks govt. to respond to plea to provide equal protection The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to respond to a plea to provide equal protection in law against sexual abuse for transgender persons. The petition filed by advocate Reepak Kansal said there was no penal provision which protected them from sex crimes. A Bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said the petition embodied a worthy cause and required hearing. The Bench also asked senior advocate Vikas Singh, who represents Mr. Kansal, to file details of instances in which the court, to protect rights, filled up the vacuum caused by the absence of statutory law. The court referred to the Vishaka guidelines dealing with the sexual harassment of women at the workplace and the decriminalisation of consensual gay sex acts in this context. The plea referred to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other criminal laws which do not mention offences against “transgender, transsexuals, kinnar and eunuchs”. “In spite of declaring transgender people to be a ‘third gender’ by this court, there is no provision/section in the Indian Penal Code which may protect the third gender from the sexual assault by male/female or another transgender,” the petition said. The PIL challenged the constitutional validity of certain clauses of Section 354 A (outraging the modesty of woman) of the IPC, to the extent that they are interpreted to exclude victims of sexual harassment who are transgender persons.