SC allows transgender, to amend plea, denied job as cabin crew in Air India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today allowed a transgender, who had undergone sex change in 2014, to amend her plea challenging Air India’s decision to deny her a job as a cabin crew to assail the grounds of conducting personality test for third gender candidates by the national carrier.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud allowed senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioner, to file the amendment which raised some additional issues.

“Let the matter be listed after two weeks,” the bench said.
The top court had earlier issued notice and sought responses from Air India and the Civil Aviation Ministry on the plea of the transgender, who 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 last year 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.

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 she fared 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 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 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.

SC raps government over state of affairs in Air India

With Air India grappling with financial crisis, the Supreme Court has rapped the government for giving “profitable routes” to private carriers and asked it to plan a turnaround in the national carrier saying it “faces extinction” if things continued like this.

“Why many lucrative routes have been given to private carriers,” a bench comprising justices Vikramjit Sen and Kurian Joseph observed while expressing concern over Air India taking a beating against private airways, post merger of Air India and Indian Airlines.

The bench, which wanted the Civil Aviation Ministry to think over the various issues plaguing the national carrier, also said other area of concern was the priority given to private airlines with Air India aircraft being asked to hover around during the peak landing hours causing huge loss of money on fuel.

“A situation has reached where after travelling in private airlines, when one boards Air India, he thinks why have I taken this flight. The situation is really, really bad, we are sorry to say. The financial loss is already being talked about since long, passenger dissatisfaction is a known fact too.

“Strangely, Air India is focusing on money-losing routes while many profitable routes have been given to the private airlines. Please think of how a turnaround can be brought about,” the bench said, adding, “if things continue like this the airline faces extinction.”

The remarks were made during the hearing of the cross-appeals filed by Air India Management and workers union against the order of the Bombay High Court which dealt with various contentious issues arising out of the Justice Dharmadhikari report on the merger of the erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India.

Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi was appearing for the Centre and Air India.

The high court had dealt with the issues of 75 per cent of wages and salary for the workers and had asked the unions to approach the Central Government Industrial Tribunal regarding lowering of salary allowances following the merger.

The high court had on January 27 declined to stay the implementation of the Dharmadhikari report on the merger of the erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India.