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Transgender sues Air India: SC asks Centre to formulate policy on employment to third gender

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli in an interim order asked the government to consult all stakeholders on creating an enabling framework that would help the third sex with employment opportunities.

ANI | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to formulate a policy within three months so that reasonable accommodation in employment can be provided to transgender persons in all establishments covered by the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli in an interim order asked the government to consult all stakeholders on creating an enabling framework that would help the third sex with employment opportunities. The top court said that every establishment was required to adhere to the provisions of the Act.

The order of the apex court came on a plea filed by transgender woman, Shanavi Ponnuswamy, who alleged that she was refused a cabin crew position by Air India owing to her gender identity.

However, the counsel appearing of the airline contended that Ponnuswamy was rejected not because she is a transgender woman, but because she was unable to score the minimum qualifying marks in the Scheduled Caste category.

Chennai-based engineering graduate Shanavi Ponnusamy had approached the apex court in 2017.

Ponnusamy, who was born male at birth and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2014 had responded to an advertisement in 2017 and applied for a job as a cabin crew with Air India. Since the carrier did not have the option for the third sex, she applied as a female. Ponnusamy said she didn’t get the job because she was transgender.

Ponnusamy, who alleged she was not hired by Air India because she is a transgender and the vacancies in the cabin crew were earmarked only for men or women, moved the top court to scrap the airline’s hiring criteria which included a group discussion and a personality screening test for those willing to apply for cabin crew jobs.

The petition had also cited the Supreme Court verdict of 2014 that gave certain directions for protection of the rights of transgenders by including a third category in documents.