Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court has directed the public sector State Bank of India to allow the choice of third gender in its application forms for recruiting new employees, observing that a transgender cannot be discriminated on the basis of sex.
Announcing its judgement on a plea filed by 27-year-old transgender Atri Kar, Justice Debangsu Basak on Thursday observed the recruitment process followed by SBI was an “active discrimination” against transgenders and violated fundamental rights of a citizen.
“The selection process undertaken by the State Bank of India does not allow a transgender to apply as such as the gender column of the on-line application form provides for two options which does not include a transgender. Such a on-line application form is an active discrimination against a transgender and is violative of Article 15 of the Constitution of India,” the judgement said.
Last month, the State Bank of India had initiated a selection process for recruitment of probationary officers and invited on-line registration of the applications. However, Kar couldn’t file her application due to the absence of third gender option on the application form.
Directing the SBI to accept Kar’s job application – the deadline of which ended on March 6 – the court has also stressed on the bank to extend the benefits of reservation which the persons of third gender are entitled to.
According to the landmark 2014 Supreme Court judgement on National Legal Services Authority’s petition, apart from Hijras and eunuchs, “transgender persons’ right to decide their self-identified gender is also upheld and the Centre and State Governments are directed to grant legal recognition of their gender identity such as male, female or as third gender.”
The judgement also directed the government to treat them as “as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments.
“I was shocked when I first attempted to apply for the job last month. I didn’t approach court first but raised the concern with SBI authorities. However, there was no response from their side. Finally, I took the legal course to ensure my rights as a transgender person are not violated,” Kar, who also holds the feat of being first transgender from West Bengal to appear in a civil service exam, said.
A private teacher from Kolkata, the high court’s judgement is Kar’s yet another success in her fight for the rights of transgenders in India. Last year, she dragged West Bengal Public Service Commission and Railway Recruitment Board to the court after the selection processes in both the institutions didn’t accept her as a transgender candidate. Finally, her pleas in both the cases were upheld.
“Even the UPSC examination forms don’t have options for the third gender. I missed the deadline to submit my application but I’ll surely fight for the inclusion of the third gender category in UPSC forms,” Kar explained, adding “the fight is still on.”