The Kerala High Court on Thursday took exception to the Centre’s submission that there was no provision to allow transgender persons in the National Cadet Corps, Bar and Bench reported.

“A person cannot be denied a legitimate right only because she is a transgender,” Justice Devan Ramachandran observed. He said that the Centre’s stance goes against Kerala’s policy on transgenders as well as the applicable statute.

A single-judge bench headed by Ramachandran was hearing a writ petition filed by Hina Haneefa, a transwoman student at the University College in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram. Haneefa opposed her exclusion from the NCC unit at the college on the basis of her gender.

Last month, Haneefa had challenged Section 6 of the National Cadet Corps Act, 1948, which only allows either “male” or “female” cadets, according to The Indian Express.

During Thursday’s hearing, Centre’s standing counsel Dayasindhu Shreehari submitted that the objection to Haneefa’s enrollment for being a transgender was not discrimination, arguing that it was “a reasonable classification”.

To this, Ramachandran asked Shreehari: “[Enrollment cannot be granted because] she is not a man or woman, that is what you’re saying now, virtually?”

On Shreehari replying in the affirmative, the court observed that “a person cannot be denied legitimate rights merely because he/she is a transgender, particularly when such person has assigned to himself/herself a particular gender”, The Indian Express reported.

The court asked Shreehari to submit written statements on the National Cadet Corps’ stance and will the hear the matter after two weeks. The court also ordered Haneefa’s university to keep a seat vacant for her enrollment.

According to Bar and Bench, Haneefa had challenged the exclusion from National Cadet Corps calling the decision “arbitrary”. In the petition, Haneefa said that the inclusion of sexual minorities “is necessary to address the rampant marginalisation and discrimination faced by them”.