The Union government has made no provision for reservation in jobs and education in the transgender Bill that was introduced in the Lok Sabha this week.
According to an earlier draft of the Cabinet note prepared by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, all transgender persons, barring those who are not from Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes, were to be considered in the reservation quota for Other Backward Castes (OBC).
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, introduced by Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot in Lok Sabha Tuesday, however, has no mention of the reservation. Sources in the ministry said that it was dropped because of protests by OBC groups who feared this would shrink their share of the pie.
The earlier draft Cabinet note had a section on reservation in employment. It read, “Those transgender persons who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe may be declared as Backward Class and be entitled to reservation under the existing ceiling of OBC category.”
As for transgender persons belonging to SC and ST communities, they were to take benefit under the existing reservation quota available for these categories, it had said. “Ever since the draft was circulated by us, the ministry received representations from OBC groups who were staunchly opposed to the proposed move,” said a ministry source.
The government had to take up the issue of reservation under OBC quota for transgenders following an August 2014 recommendation by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) in favour of the inclusion of transgenders in the central list of OBCs.
“The Supreme Court judgment in the case filed by the National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India said that the Centre should treat them as socially and educationally backward classes and provide them with the reservations available to them. We elaborated on the SC order in our report and said that all transgenders from forward castes should be given reservation under the existing 27 per cent quota for OBC,” said NCBC member S K Kharventhan.
The government Bill on transgenders’ rights came in the wake of a similar Bill introduced in Rajya Sabha by DMK MP Tiruchi. The private member Bill, the first such to be passed in over four decades, spoke of reservation in not only jobs but also in education — an assured two per cent reservation.
“Instead of two per cent, it could even be 0.5 per cent but it has to be only horizontal reservation. This means that within the existing reservation quota for OBCs, SCs and STs, there must be an assured per cent of reservation for transgenders as they cannot easily get jobs and education if they are made to compete with others in each category. However the Bill introduced in Lok Sabha has nothing on reservation; it is entirely toothless,” said Siva.