< Back to other cases

SUMITA KUMARI VS. STATE OF WEST BENGAL

Read the full judgement here
citation:

W.P. 8911/2015

court:

High Court of West Bengal

judges:

Justice Biswanath Sommader

KEY FACTS:

Sumita Kumari applied to be an ASHA Karmee/social worker. Sumita was a transgender woman who was unable to specify her gender as male or female. ASHA Karmee rejected her application for employment. She approached the court to argue against the prejudice she faced in the process of application.

ISSUES AND DECISION:

The Court considered whether Sumita faced any discrimination on account of identifying as neither male nor female. It relied onn a memo by the National Health Mission. According to the memo, only females who were married, divorced, or widowed were eligible to be ASHA Karmees/social workers. In other words, single women, single men and non-binary persons were not eligible to apply.

The Court held that there was no discrimination against transgender persons as the eligibility requirements were gender-specific. It also stated that the criteria could have been discriminatory if men were allowed to apply and only transgender persons were not allowed to apply. Thus, the Court held that Sumita’s ineligibility for employment as an ASHA Karmee was not discriminatory treatment.

SIGNIFICANCE:

This judgment failed to recognize transgender women as “women”. It categorises “transgender” as a gender separate from male/female. Thus, the judgement contradicts the NALSA, judgement, which allows all persons to self-identify their gender. Finally, this case is significant in exposing the gaps in the realisation of rights enshrined in NALSA in the judiciary.