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Transgender denied job as cabin crew in Air India tells SC airline’s hiring norms do not recognise category

Chennai-based engineering graduate Shanavi Ponnusamy said that the application for the screening exam for candidates for group discussion (GD) and personality aptitude test (PAT) only had male and female categories, and thus excluded her from being considered eligible.

india Updated: Jul 23, 2018 22:45 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Cab crew,Transgender denied job in Air India,sexual reassignment surgery
Air India told the Supreme Court that the complainant Shanavi Ponnusamy could not qualify the test.(AFP/File Photo)

A 28-year-old transgender woman who was denied a cabin crew position by national carrier Air India, told the Supreme Court on Monday that the airline’s hiring norms do not recognise a transgender category.

Chennai-based engineering graduate Shanavi Ponnusamy said that the application for the screening exam for candidates for group discussion (GD) and personality aptitude test (PAT) only had male and female categories, and thus excluded her from being considered eligible.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Ponnusamy, submitted before a bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that his client should be allowed to formally challenge the airline’s hiring procedure as it was against a 2014 judgement of the top court, which granted wide ranging rights to transgender persons.

The verdict delivered in the case of National Legal Services Authority Vs Union of India granted a third gender status to transgender persons, and directed the Centre and states to ensure their social, economic and politic inclusion.

Ponnusamy had filed a petition in September 2017 asking that she should be considered for the position. In November, the apex court ordered the ministry of civil aviation and Air India to respond within four weeks.

According to Grover, Air India’s affidavit filed in response to the petition stated that Ponnusamy did not qualify the GD and PAT and scored 51 marks out of 100.

However, in response to a grievance to the Prime Minister’s Office, Ponnuswamy was told that there was no transgender category in the recruitment exam.

“Presently transgender category does not exist in the recruitment policy. If this is introduced any time in the future, we will advertise vacancies accordingly,” the response dated September 1, 2017 stated.

Grover told the court that Ponnusamy could not have competed with other women, although she applied under the female category. The criterion should have been relaxed for her, he argued.

“She is a transgender and to test her as a woman would be incorrect. And, they (Air India) do not have a third category in GD and PAT,” Grover said.

In response, the Air India counsel said that Ponnusamy had applied as a woman and also under the Scheduled Caste category. “The petitioner could not qualify the test, and not once but twice,” the counsel said.

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 20:22 IST