Calcutta HC to hear PIL seeking third gender option in state public examination forms
A Calcutta high court lawyer filed the PIL, saying the Supreme Court ruled that the Centre and state governments should introduce a column for the community in forms for public examinations.
A lawyer has filed a private petition in the Calcutta high court seeking directions to the West Bengal government to introduce ‘third gender’ as an option for transgenders in application forms for examinations it holds and follow the 2014 Supreme Court order that acknowledged them as neither male nor female.
Calcutta high court lawyer Arnab Nandy filed the public interest litigation (PIL) on Monday through his counsel Kaushik Gupta. The court is yet to list a date for a hearing.
“... The apex court ruled that the Centre and state governments should introduce a column for the community in forms for public examinations. The Bengal government is yet to introduce that option in forms for examinations, including the ones conducted by the West Bengal Public Service Commission,” Gupta told the Hindustan Times.
Gupta was referring to the Supreme Court’s April 2014 judgment that also held that because transgender people were treated as socially and economically backward classes, they will be granted reservations in admissions to educational institutions and jobs.
The state government, West Bengal Public Service Commission, and West Bengal Transgender Development Board have been named in the litigation.
West Bengal Transgender Development Board chairperson and state social welfare minister Dr Sashi Panja could not be reached despite repeated attempts by HT. She also did not reply to a text message.
Vice-chairperson of the board Manabi Bandopadhyay told HT that unless there is a reservation or quota in government jobs for the transgender community, a separate column in examination forms was meaningless.
“It is the Union government that should introduce this reservation. The state government has nothing to do with this issue,” Bandopadhyay said.
According to the 2011 census, there are half a million transgender people but activists estimate the number at about two million. The census says less than half are literate and even fewer have jobs — a concern shared by activists who say that the community lives on the margins of society, often in poverty, ostracised because of their gender identity.
However, in most states, the community is yet to get even identity cards and often have to take a legal recourse to get their voices heard.
Twenty-four-year-old Ganga Kumari became Rajasthan’s first and India’s third transgender to be inducted into the state police on Tuesday after a two-year-long legal battle.
In February this year, Bihar became the first state to introduce the ‘third gender’ option in Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) tests and 18 students sat for examinations under this category.
The Delhi high court directed Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in September 2016 to include ‘third gender’ as a gender option in application forms for civil service examinations.
The commission is looking into the modalities in this regard.
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