Apex Court To Hear Transgender Woman’s Plea Against Job Denial In Air India In 3 Weeks

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The Supreme Court Tuesday said it would hear after three weeks a transgender woman’s plea challenging Air India’s decision to deny her a job as a cabin crew member.

A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna said that the matter has been already notified for hearing and would be taken up after three weeks.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioner, said that she had filed an application for early hearing of her main petition as the matter is pending since 2017.

On July 23, the top court had allowed the transgender woman, who had undergone sex change in 2014, to amend her plea challenging Air India’s decision to deny her the job of a cabin crew member by assailing the grounds of conducting personality test for third gender candidates by the national carrier.

The top court had issued notice in 2017 and sought responses from Air India and the Civil Aviation Ministry on the plea. They justified the decision of not selecting her saying she had failed to secure minimum marks to qualify for the personality test and group discussion (PT and GD) and there no discrimination done against her.

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The petitioner had 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.

The petitioner said she learnt about an advertisement on July 10, 2017 by Air India for the post of a 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.

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She said she got the call letter, appeared for PT and GD tests and undertook four attempts, “but unfortunately she has not been short-listed for the post in question even though she fared well in the tests conducted”.

In her petition, she alleged that she was not shortlisted for being 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.

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Citing the top court verdict of 2014, she said the top court has given certain directions for protection of the rights of the transgenders by including a third category in documents like election card, passport, driving license and ration card, and for admission in educational institutions, hospitals, among others.

“By recognising diverse gender identities, the court has busted the dual gender structure of “man” and “woman” which is recognised by the society,” she said in her plea.

“The right to choose 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.

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