The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal said on Wednesday that it cannot pass orders to reserve seats for trans persons in educational institutes and government jobs under the “third gender” category in the state, The Indian Express reported.

However, the tribunal observed that not a single trans person is employed in any of the five lakh government jobs available in Maharashtra and told the state that it is obliged to take more meaningful steps to include trans people in mainstream society.

The tribunal accepted the state government’s stand that reservations for trans persons are not possible as vertical reservations in Maharashtra already account for 62% of jobs and seats in educational institutes, reported Bar and Bench.

Vertical reservations create quotas for members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes or Other Backward Classes in educational institutions and government service.

In Maharashtra, the proportion of such quotas exceeds the 50% cap on all reservations stipulated by the Supreme Court’s Indra Sawhney judgement of 1992, reported Bar and Bench.

The tribunal chairperson Justice Mridula Bhatkar and administrative member Medha Gadgil directed the state government to grant the community some concessions under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

For example, “necessary grace marks” should be given to transgender applicants in educational institutes so that they can score the minimum marks required to pass examinations. Maharashtra has also been asked to consider trans applicants for government jobs if they have scored 50% of the total marks in competitive exams.

“Mere acknowledgement of [trans persons’] separate identity is not enough to provide them opportunity in public employment,” the tribunal observed while hearing petitions filed by three trans persons, Arya Pujari, Vinayak Kashid and Yashwant Bhise.

Submitting that Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Bihar have implemented vertical reservations for trans persons, the petitioners sought the quota for them in Maharashtra.

All three petitioners have applied for public jobs in the state police and revenue departments. Pujari and Kashid had applied for the post of police constables while Bhise had applied for the post of talathi.

“The Transgender Persons Act offers progressive dynamics so also equally sensitive approach by the government,” the tribunal remarked. “[Maharashtra has] proved to be very progressive in its thought and culture. Therefore, it is desirable on the part of the Government to take necessary measures to enable these transgender applicants to get jobs in the Government sector.”

The tribunal observed that trans persons are running “a handicapped race” for public employment despite being physically able due to “a negative approach in society”.