The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Women seat topples genderless Kamla
- Jabalpur High Court asks eunuch mayor to step down immediately

Bhopal, Feb. 3: Kamla Jaan has done for Katni all the things a copybook mayor would have — sunk wells, fixed drains, renovated bus stations — but that has not saved her job as the first eunuch mayor in the country.

Jabalpur High Court today upheld a lower court ruling that Kamla Jaan was not eligible for mayor and should step down immediately, overturning its earlier stay in the case.

The court said Kamla Jaan’s election was illegal as she had won from Katni constituency, which is reserved for women. On the electoral rolls, Kamla Jaan is registered as male.

The ruling came as a blow to eunuchs in Madhya Pradesh, which boasts an Independent eunuch MLA in the Assembly. Eunuch leader Guru Haji Suriyya said it was wrong to disqualify Kamla Jaan because of disagreement on gender. The eunuchs are now planning to move the Supreme Court in their quest for “justice”.

Kamla Jaan has been mayor of Katni since January 2000 and like many other eunuchs, refers to herself as female. She said that before contesting, she had not bothered to check out her gender on the electoral rolls. She had also declined to get herself medically examined.

After a petition was moved a year ago, a lower court ruled that Kamla Jaan’s ‘official’ gender barred her from occupying a seat reserved for women under a system at the municipal level.

The news of Kamla Jaan’s disqualification has disappointed many in Katni. She was generally considered an honest person who dealt with civic authorities with an iron hand.

Shabnam Mausi — the country’s first eunuch MLA — suggested there should be a law to allow eunuchs to qualify both as male and female.

However, there was nothing wrong with today’s judgment, she said, as it did not address the larger question of eunuchs’ sex but was limited to Kamla Jaan’s “false” gender status.

Shabnam Mausi said that as eunuchs could choose their sex, they should keep it in mind while aspiring for seats. “If you are interested in contesting seats reserved for women, get yourself registered as a woman,” she said.

Eunuchs in Madhya Pradesh have gained popularity in the political arena for their honesty and capacity to get work done. But they are yet to make a foray in national politics.

Shabnam Mausi had tried hard to get into the Congress and even managed to impress Sonia Gandhi, but state leaders had scuttled her entry into the party. Hardened by similar rejections, eunuch leader Suriyya said the community was now planning to float its own party.

But the tide seems to be turning in favour of the eunuchs, at least in Katni and Suhagpur, Shabnam Mausi’s constituency. Many voters --- disillusioned with the usual political parties --- claim they will bank on the eunuchs the next time round as they had no family ties and tended to serve the people than feather their own nests.

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