A transgender, who had undergone sex change three years ago, today moved the Supreme Court challenging Air India’s decision to deny her a job as a cabin crew. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice and sought responses from Air India and Civil Aviation Ministry in four weeks. She claimed that to pursue her dreams, she had worked for 13 months in Sutherland Global Services in the airline sector and even at Air India’s customer support, both domestic and international, at Chennai. Born in Tamil Nadu in 1989, she said she graduated in engineering in 2010. She underwent the gender surgery to turn into a woman in April 2014 and this information was published in the state government gazette. She said she had learnt about an advertisement on July 10 by Air India for the post of female cabin crew for its Northern Region office in Delhi on a fixed term engagement basis for an initial period of five years. She applied in the female category as she had undergone a successful sexual reassignment surgery in Bangkok.
She said she got the call letter, appeared for GD and PAT tests and undertook four attempts, “but unfortunately she has not been short-listed for the post in question even though faring well in the tests conducted”. In her petition, she said she could not get shortlisted as she was a transgender and the vacancies in the cabin crew were earmarked only for women. She said that representations were made to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Civil Aviation but there was no redressal. She had sought direction to Air India and the Ministry for consideration of her candidature.
“The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 prohibits discrimination. It is clear that no person shall discriminate against a transgender person in relation to employment or occupation…”, her plea said. Citing the top court verdict of 2014, she said the apex court has given certain directions for protection of the rights of the transgender persons by including a third category in documents like election card, passport, driving license and ration card, and for admission in educational institutions, hospitals, amongst others.
“By recognising diverse gender identities, the Court has busted the dual gender structure of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ which is recognized by the society,” she said in her plea. “The right to chose one’s gender identity is an essential part to lead a life with dignity which again falls under the ambit of Article 21. Determining the right to personal freedom and self determination, the Court observed that the gender to which a person belongs is to be determined by the person concerned. “The Court has given the people of India the right to gender identity. Further, they cannot be discriminated against on the ground of gender as it is violative of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 21,” the plea said.