SC asks Centre to frame policy on employment for transgender persons

New Delhi:- The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to develop a policy within three months to provide employment to the third genders under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

A bench headed by justice D.Y. Chandrachud told the Department of Personnel Training (DoPT) and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to consult all stakeholders, including the National Council for Transgender Persons, to formulate the policy for providing employment to the third gender.

The bench, also comprising justice Hima Kohli, was hearing a plea filed by a transgender woman Shanavi Ponnuswamy, who was declined a cabin crew position by Air India allegedly owing to her sexual orientation.

Senior advocate, K.V. Viswanathan, representing Air India, submitted before the bench that the petitioner’s application was rejected not because she is a transgender woman, but she could not score the minimum qualifying marks.

The petitioner’s counsel contended there was no separate category for transgenders as authorities said the advertisements were issued for female cabin crew.

The bench said the petitioner claims that airline’s norms say that cabin crew members should possess blemish free complexion, and she says if I do not meet this then this is discrimination.

Viswanathan assured the top court that petitioner’s application was not rejected because she is a transgender woman.

Petitioner’s counsel added that authorities concerned said the advertisement was for female cabin crew members only and there was no separate category for transgender and she had applied for a cabin crew post with Air India in 2016.

The petitioner claimed that in September 2017, she finally received a response saying that Air India has no policy in place to hire a trans woman.

The top court asked if there is a possibility for Air India to consider the representation afresh.

The counsel representing Air India said there was no possibility of considering her representation now and, if her case were to be reconsidered, then post would have to be re-notified.

The bench said the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, brought into force on January 10, 2020, marked a watershed in the rights of transgender persons and imposed a positive obligation on the state authorities.

It further added that the order was passed to ensure implementation of the 2019 law as the issue at hand transcended beyond petitioner’s claims on employment.