Atri Kar was a transgender person who wished to participate in the selection process conducted by the State Bank of India (“SBI”) to recruit Probationary Officers. However, the application form did not contain a gender column for transgender applicants. The petitioner made a representation to SBI. It did not elicit any response. The petitioner approached the High Court to be allowed to participate in the selection process as a transgender person.
ISSUES & DECISION:
The Court deliberated on whether SBI was an instrument of Central or State Government and whether the directions in NALSA v. Union of India (“NALSA”) are binding on SBI. It also considered whether not including “third gender” in the gender column in the application form violated Atri’s fundamental rights.
The Bank argued that NALSA is applicable only to the Centre and State Governments. As SBI is neither, the directions in NALSA would not be applicable to it. Hence, SBI is not required to provide a separate column for third gender applicants.
The Court held that NALSA’s directions to the Centre and State Governments would extend to an authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India, 1950. Hence, the directions would also bind SBI. Further, it observed that transgender persons cannot be discriminated on the basis of sex and failure to provide a separate column for third gender persons amounts to discrimination under Article 15. Therefore, the Court directed SBI to allow the petitioner to participate in the selection process as a transgender person and to extend the benefits of the directions in NALSA to the petitioner.
This Court held that NALSA binds instruments of the State, and not just the Centre and State Governments. It clarified that NALSA’s directions also apply to the State Bank of India.