PIL before Bombay High Court to include transgender persons in public sector jobs

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A public interest litigation petition was recently filed before the Bombay High Court seeking implementation of Supreme Court guidelines that mandate inclusion of transgender persons in public sector employment.

The plea, filed by the NGOs Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM) and Muskaan Sanstha along with two aggrieved transgender persons, alleged that the non inclusion of the ‘third gender’ category in public-sector recruitment amounts to violations of the right to equality, the freedom of speech and expression, and the right to life and dignity guaranteed under the Constitution.

The petitioners have sought inclusion under clause (m) of Section 2 of the Maharashtra State Public Services (Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, De-notified Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Special Backward Category and Other Backward Classes) Act of 2001.

The denial of inclusion, according to them, is in non-compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court in National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) vs. Union of India, where it was mandated the inclusion of transgender persons in public-sector employment under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of Citizens [SEBC] is a fundamental right under Articles 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution.

One of the petitioners previously sought to apply for a position with the Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company (Mahatransco) but was unable to do so as the ‘third gender’ option was unavailable in the application forms.

The petitioner was then directed to email the Human Resources department of Mahatransco but never received a response. The experience was similar when applying for recruitment notified by Indian Rare Earths Limited.

Another petitioner had completed the requisite training for the post of a police constable but was denied employment as the ‘third gender’ option was missing.

The plea claimed that the petitioners have been deprived of their right to livelihood guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution as the denial of their employment was based on their gender identity.

It was, therefore, submitted that there is an urgent need for changes in service rules under the Act to enable members of the transgender community to apply for public services as they do not even apply for government recruitment, given that the employment is restricted to the existing gender binary.

Hence, the petitioners requested the Court to direct the State government to include ‘third Gender’ in all their recruitment, including at institutions under its control and in all relevant statutes.

It also prayed for appropriate horizontal reservation for ‘third gender’ in all recruitment.

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