National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 15/04/2014

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: K.S. Radhakrishnan, A.K. Sikri



Petitioner: National Legal Services Authority

Respondent: Union of India

SUBJECT: The judgment revolves around the question of whether right to sexual orientation is a part of Article 21 of the Constitution.

FACTS: The petitioner a non-governmental organisation filled a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution before the SC for the recognition of third gender rights.



Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.

Article 14: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India


1. Whether right to sexual orientation is a part of Article 21 of the Constitution?


The petitioner contended that,

  • Nonrecognition of sexual orientation violated an individual’s right to dignified life under Article 21
  • Every person of the transgender community has a legal right to decide their sex orientation and to espouse and determine their identity.
  • Transgender persons have to be declared as a socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and must be accorded all benefits available to that class of persons, which are being extended to male and female genders.

Respondents contended that, the issue raised by the petitioner is a serious issue for which the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formed a Committee, called “Expert Committee on Issues relating to Transgender”, to conduct an in-depth study of the problems relating to transgender persons to make appropriate recommendations to the Ministry. Upon the recommendations being given a proper legislation would be enacted.

Upon hearing the parties, the Court held that, sexual orientation is inextricable facet of Article 21 and thus it cannot be violated. The Court also gave directions for the recognition of the

transgender community. Some of the notable directions include providing public toilets for the Community, reservation in educational institution.