She fulfilled all the requirements. She passed all the entrance examinations. Yet she did not get the job of constable at the Sashtra Seema Bal, a paramilitary force that guards India’s borders with Nepal and Bhutan — all because she did not have ovaries.
According to a petition filed by this 22-year-old Lucknow-based woman in the Delhi High Court on October 3, the Bal’s medical panel found her unfit for the job last year because she was a pseudo-hermaphrodite, a person who has ‘XX’, or female, chromosomes but has masculine reproductive organs. The woman, who was born with this condition, had her ovaries removed five years ago.
The paramilitary force’s medical panel declared her “unfit” because she had her ovaries removed. The force turned down her appeal for a review, which a doctor from Sanjay Gandhi Medical Government Hospital in Lucknow strongly recommended.
In her petition, of which HT has a copy, the woman claims that independent doctors had declared her medically fit and said even though she could not conceive, she has a successful married life. In her petition, the woman alleged that the Bal had discriminated against her and acted arbitrarily. She demanded her right to equal employment.
Since India does not have laws to protect the rights of hermaphrodites or psuedo-hermaphrodites (see box for precise definitions), her lawyer Geeta Luthra has based the petition on the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution include the right to equality and assert that a person cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, including sex reassignment, even in matters connected to employment.
The bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has directed the paramilitary force to explain why it had not given the job to a person who had qualified for it based on written and oral tests. It also asked Luthra to provide it medical literature on gender reassignment.“One cannot be refused opportunity of employment on the basis of sexual dysfunction unless a reasonable nexus is proven between the requirements of the job and inability of the candidate due to the sexual disability,” the judge observed.