The Centre has told the Supreme Court that transgender persons can avail of any of the existing 50% reservation in admissions and government jobs already available to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Socially and Educationally Backward Communities (SEBC) across the country.
The government said transgender persons could also benefit from the 10% quota granted to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the society.
“The benefits of any of the reservation, including the four reservations [SC/ST/SEBC/EWS], can be availed by the marginalised and eligible population of the country, including transgender persons,” the 12-page affidavit of the Social Justice Ministry informed.
In fact, the Ministry said “the entire marginalised and eligible population of the country, including transgenders, is at present covered under any one of the four categories of reservation”.
However, the Ministry has not mentioned reservation for the transgender community as a separate class.
In fact, the Supreme Court in its 2014 judgment in the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) case had directed the Centre and the State governments to “take steps to treat transgender persons 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”.
The judgment had also expressly directed the Centre and State governments to protect transgender persons from discrimination in employment and access to welfare schemes. It had held that educational institutions were obliged to provide them inclusive education.
The Ministry’s response came in a contempt petition accusing the government of not implementing the directions in the 2014 judgment.
The judgment had declared that hijras, eunuchs, apart from binary genders, be treated as third gender for the purpose of safeguarding their fundamental rights.
A Division Bench of the apex court had upheld transgender persons’ right to decide their self-identified gender. It had given legal recognition to their gender identity.
The transgender community form a reasonably sizeable class as per the statistics available in the ‘National Portal for Transgender Persons’ launched by the government on November 25, 2020. The Ministry has itself said the portal was visited 22+ lakh times and over 12,000 transgender certificates and identity cards were issued across the country.
Besides, the affidavit revealed that the ‘other’ category in the 2011 census, which include transgender persons, show a population of 4.8 lakh. Of this, 16.16% and 6.83% were members of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.