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Calcutta High Court says having joined public employment as a lady civic volunteer, one cannot be permitted to claim transgender status

In the case of P vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors. [W.P.A. 3962 of 2021], the Calcutta High Court on 11th February 2021 stated that having joined public employment as a lady civic volunteer, the petitioner cannot be permitted to turn around and now claim the status of a transgender.

A writ petition was filed in the Calcutta High Court by a person who stated that they were a transgender person seeking mandamus against the police authorities to enable participation in the selection process of police constables instituted by the West Bengal Police Directorate. It appears that the petitioner was originally designated as male at the time of birth. Subsequently, by sworn affidavit before the Judicial Magistrate, she declared herself as a transgender person. However, after the enactment of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 (Act), the petitioner obtained employment with the State as a Lady called P and was attached to the Maidan Police Station.

The question that arose for consideration was whether Pallabi could participate in the selection process of police constables as a transgender person.

The counsel for the petitioner made two arguments: one, as per the Act, a third gender is required to be provided for and permitted to participate in the recruitment process of Constables with the State, and second that there was no grievance redressal mechanism in the State of West Bengal or in the police force to redress grievances of transgender. The counsel referred to Section 11 of the Act which states “Every establishment shall designate a person to be a complaint officer to deal with the complaints relating to violation of the provisions of this Act.”

The court relied on the Act. The Bench of Justice Rajshekhar Mantha observed that the petitioner has been approbating and reprobating, and having joined public employment as a lady civic volunteer, the petitioner cannot be permitted to turn around and now claim the status of a transgender.

The Court disposed off the petition. However, on the second argument of the learned counsel, directed Police and the Chief Secretary to immediately set up a Grievance Redressal Mechanism and/or official in the West Bengal Police and the State (respectively) in compliance with Section 11 of the Act.

Aakriti Chokhani, Advocate & Associate, POSH at Work

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