New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday addressed the categorization of the transgender community, asserting that they should not be considered a distinct caste. This pronouncement came during a hearing regarding the Bihar government’s inclusion of the transgender community in the caste list, designating them as a separate category, rather than a distinct caste.
The bench, led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna, rejected the petition and emphasized that the Bihar government had created a separate column for transgender individuals within the list to ensure their data’s availability to the state. The court made it clear that “transgender is never a caste” and explained that the introduction of three distinct columns – male, female, and transgender – adequately addressed the issue of data collection.
The Supreme Court recognized the importance of providing certain benefits to transgender individuals as the third gender but firmly established that they should not be treated as a separate caste. The bench’s reasoning was that transgender individuals can belong to various castes, making it impractical to classify them as a distinct caste.
Bihar, as the first state to release data from a comprehensive caste-based survey, revealed significant statistics. The report indicated that 36% of the population falls under the Extremely Backward Classes category, 27.1% are classified as Backward Classes, 19.7% as Scheduled Castes, and 1.7% as Scheduled Tribes. The general population constitutes 15.5% of the state’s total population, which exceeds 13.1 crore.
This initiative to conduct a caste survey was undertaken by the Bihar government in response to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s emphasis on the survey’s potential benefits for all sections of society, particularly the marginalized and deprived.