Bombay HC issues notice to Maharashtra govt and MPSC after PIL seeking reservations for transgender persons in public jobs

THE Bombay High Court on Monday issued notice directing the government of Maharashtra and the Maharashtra Public Service Commission [MPSC] to respond to a public interest litigation [PIL] seeking to implement reservations for the employment of transgender persons in the public sector.

The PIL was made in light of the Supreme Court’s landmark guidelines in NALSA vs. Union of India (2014) seeking inclusion of transgender persons in public employment, and was filed by the NGO Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha, along with a community-based organisation Muskan Sanstha and two individuals, Vinayak Kashid and Arya, who identify as transpersons.

The petitioners prayed for implementation of the Supreme Court’s mandate on the inclusion of trans people in public sector employment under the category of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes as part of their fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution.

One of the petitioners, Kashid, had desired to apply for a post at the Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company in August 2021 but was unable to do so due to the lack of a ’third gender’ option in the job forms. Similarly, petitioner Arya, who was qualified to apply for a vacancy of a police constable, and had undergone training with the Mumbai Police, was unable to do so because of the absence of desired gender-options in the employment forms.

Represented by advocate Vijay Hiremath, the petitioners argued that this non-implementation of reservations in public jobs constituted a violation of “Article 14, 19(1)(a) and 21, which guarantee the right to equality, freedom of speech and expression and right to life and dignity”.

The PIL also noted that applications under the Right to Information Act filed by the petitioners were left unanswered except for a response stating that their queries were “in progress”. They added that written complaints to the Transgender Welfare Board of Maharashtra, as well as Member of Parliament Supriya Sule, former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray all received no response.

Their plea also sought the inclusion of the category of ‘third gender’ under Section 2(m) 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, 2001.

A bench of Justices A.A. Sayed and Milind Jadhav directed the respondents to reply within two weeks and posted the matter for hearing in four weeks. Advocate Vijay Hiremath was also directed to include the Transgender Welfare Board of Maharashtra as a party to the PIL.