The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Navy to consider giving a clerical post to a sailor who was sacked for undergoing a sex change surgery.
Calling for a “change in mindset”, a division bench of Justice G.S. Sistani and Justice V. Kameswar Rao said this was probably the only case of its kind in the armed forces and pointed out that the person was suffering from gender identity crisis.
Manish Kumar Giri, 25, who has since changed his name to Sabi Giri, was discharged from service earlier this month by the Navy as part of its policy to not employ female sailors.
The bench agreed with the Navy’s decision to not allow Sabi Giri to continue as a sailor but called for a lenient view due to the nature of the issue.
“This is an out of the box situation. This may have never happened in the Navy or other armed forces,” the bench said.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the government and Navy, said: “We are not judgmental as regard to transgenders and we respect their choice but Sabi Giri was discharged from service as a part of policy decision of the Navy. As of today, Navy is not ready to accept female sailors.”
Jain told the court that Giri went on leave without informing seniors and got the surgery done. When she came back she was in a bad shape due to infections, “and we treated her at the Navy hospital for five months”.
The bench remarked that if the person was suffering from ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ and “suppose she had suppressed it and continued as a boy sailor, she could have been the most dangerous person in the department… It’s better she came out.”
The court said it will not interfere in the Navy’s policy decision but suggested that it can punish Giri for indiscipline, for being absent without leave, but at the same time it can accommodate her and see the case from a different perspective.
Posting the matter for November 23, the court asked the government and the Navy to seek instructions and inform it about their decision.
Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Giri, contended that Giri was fully and functionally fit to perform her duties.
The petition filed by Giri has sought direction from the high court to reinstate her at the same rank and pay.
The plea also challenged Section 9 of The Navy Act that allows the enrolment of only male sailors and limited entry of women sailors in specific departments, but has no provision for enrolment of transgender sailors.
In October 2016, Giri took three weeks’ leave to undergo the surgical procedure in Delhi.
She rejoined the job on the stipulated date but pretended that nothing had changed. It was only when the sailor came down with urinary tract infection that the Navy doctors found out that she had undergone Sex Re-assignment Surgery at a civil hospital.
The plea said that he was suffering from gender identity issues since 2011 and when he told his parents, they forced him to marry a woman. Giri is married with a child.