NATIONAL LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY v. UNION OF INDIA
AIR 2014 SC 1863*
The National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) filed this case to legally recognise
individuals who fall outside the binary gender of the male/female gender, including individuals
who identify as 'third gender.'
The Court had to determine whether it was possible to legally accept as "third gender" people
that fell beyond the male / female gender binary. It addressed whether disregarding non-binary
gender identities is a violation of the basic rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
This was a landmark case where for the first time the supreme court acknowledged "third
gender"/transgender individuals legally and debated" gender identity "at length. The Court
acknowledged that, according to the Constitution and under international law, third sex persons
were entitled to fundamental rights. It also instructed state governments to establish frameworks
for the realisation of third-gender / transgender rights.
The Court held that Article 14 affords protection to ‘any person,’ and “transgender persons who
are neither male/female fall within the expression ‘person’ and, hence, entitled to legal protection
of laws in all spheres of State activity, including employment, healthcare, education as well as
equal civil and citizenship rights, as enjoyed by any other citizen of this country.