State Bank of India told to include ‘transgender’ option in its examination forms.
Kolkata, March 16, 2017: After the West Bengal Public Service Commission (WBPSC) in December last year, today the State Bank of India (SBI) was directed by a court to uphold transgender inclusion. The directive was issued by Justice Debangshu Basak of the Honourable High Court at Calcutta. He was hearing a writ petition on the ‘transgender’ option missing from an advertisement issued by the SBI for an examination for the post of probationary officers.
The petition was filed by Atri Kar, a primary school teacher and trans woman activist from Tribeni in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. The advertisement in question was issued last month, and did not carry the option for ‘third gender’ or ‘transgender’ as directed by the Honourable Supreme Court of India in its judgment of April 2014 on transgender identities and rights (National Legal Services Authority or NALSA verdict).
Upon hearing Atri Kar’s counsel, advocates Kaushik Gupta and Aindreela Charkraborty, the court held that the SBI was State under Article 12 of the Constitution of India, and directed them to allow Atri Kar to fill up the examination form as a transgender person. The SBI was also directed to extend the deduction of examination fee for Atri Kar in terms of the NALSA verdict’s directive for reservation.
Atri Kar has fought and obtained similar permissions from courts and tribunals regarding other public examinations. This includes the case of WBPSC examinations last year, following which transgender inclusion seems to have gained some momentum in the state. At least four other transgender persons from Hooghly and Uttar Dinajpur districts are known to have appeared for Group D recruitment examinations of the Government of West Bengal in their desired gender identities.
The WBPSC case also attracted the attention of the TICS IAS Institute, Kolkata, who offered Atri Kar discounted admission into their training courses for civil services examinations. She is currently enrolled with them, and in a phone conversation informed that they wanted to extend similar support to other transgender persons. Interested individuals may contact Atri Kar through Varta by writing in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is based on information received from Atri Kar and other sources of Varta. Read an interview with her in the December 2016 issue of Varta here.
For a copy of the Calcutta High Court order, click here.
Since this article was published, the SBI moved court on April 23, 2017 opposing the Calcutta High Court order on grounds that a national legislation on transgender rights was still pending in the Parliament. Atri Kar was able to sit for the SBI examination for probationary officers on April 30, 2017 as the Calcutta High Court order was still valid on that day. But the SBI’s move seems particularly disturbing because the absence of a national legislation should not be grounds for disregarding the Supreme Court’s NALSA verdict – Editor.
Main graphic credit: Pawan Dhall