In a historic move, the Indian Railways and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) have included ‘transgender as the third gender’ in the gender option along with male and female in the railway ticket reservation and cancellation forms.
The decision stands for both offline and online booking. It was taken in accordance with the judgment passed by the Supreme Court of India in the NALSA vs Union of India case on 15 April 2014. The court then had directed the Union and State Governments to recognise transgender as the third gender and to grant them with all the benefits provided to the socially and economically backward classes.
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Acting on the same, a Delhi-based advocate Jamshed Ansari had earlier issued a petition at the Delhi High Court alleging that IRCTC is violating Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India by not including a ‘third gender’ option in its reservation forms. Ansari had also demanded that there should be special coaches and reserved seats for the transgender community in all trains, for their protection and care.
His petition was however dismissed by the court, leading him to approach the Railways directly with the demand that such changes should be brought about in its reservation forms. The Railways finally acting on his representation have included the option in the tickets.
National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) vs Union of India case
• Momentous decision by the Supreme Court of India that granted transgender people the right to identify themselves as male, female or as the ‘third gender’.
• In the judgment, the court also granted transgender people the right to exercise their fundamental rights like any other gender category and reservation for them in educational institutions and jobs.
• The case was heard by a bench consisting of two Supreme Court judges – Justices KS Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri.
• Both the justices had declared that the non-existence of law recognising transgender as the third gender could not be used to discriminate against them in any field or sector.
• Along with creating reservations for them, the bench had further urged the Union and State Governments to take steps for the welfare and protection of the community and to eliminate the social stigma attached to them through awareness campaigns.