Swati Bidhan Baruah has become Assam’s first transgender judge and will be a part of a 20-member judges panel in a Lok Adalat in Guwahati, to oversee and mediate cases from Saturday.
Assam became the third state after Maharashtra and West Bengal to appoint a transgender judge. The 26-year-old Baruah had filed a PIL in Guahati High Court in 2017 asked for a policy that deals with the third gender fairly. After deciding to undergo sex-reassignment surgery, Baruah had to move to Bombay High Court in 2012, as her family was opposed to the sex change.
Kamrup (metro) district legal service authority appointed Baruah to this panel, which will be held on their premises. The 20-judge panel will be overseeing family disputes, motor accidents to labour disputes etc.
The appointment of Baruah is a ray of hope for the transgender community in Assam, that’s almost 5,500 people strong in the state. “I hope this will make people realise that transgenders are not untouchables and the stigma we are facing because of lack of a policy for welfare of the community. Transgenders are still taunted in public places and even beaten up by the police. That needs to stop and society should make us feel part of it,” said Baruah.
Last year in July, Joyita Mondal was appointed the country’s first transgender judge after being becoming a member of a Lok Adalat in Islampur, West Bengal. Earlier this year in February, Vidya Kamble became Maharashtra’s first transgender judge after being appointed to a Lok Adalat in Nagpur.