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Woman constable moves Bombay high court for leave to undergo sex change surgery

Lalita Salve from Maharashtra’s Beed district said she has been refused leave by her seniors; petition likely to come up for hearing on Monday

mumbai Updated: Nov 24, 2017 10:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Bombay high court,Mumbai police
Constable Lalita Salve at Bombay high court.(Satish Bate/HT)

A 28-year-old woman police constable from Rajegaon in Beed district, Lalita Salve, approached the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday, seeking a month’s leave for gender reassignment surgery.

Salve’s counsel, Ejaj Naqvi, said the petition is likely to come up for hearing on Monday before a division bench of justice Shantanu Kemkar and justice Girish Kulkarni.

According to Salve’s petition, she completed her BA in literature from Lokmanya Tilak College at Wadvani in Beed district and joined the Maharashtra police constabulary in May 2010. The petition said for the past 2-3 years, she has been experiencing a conflict within herself, which is why she felt the urge to undergo the surgery.

The petition states, “The physical abnormality associated with the gender is by birth. Even though Salve is born as girl, her orientation is that of a male.”

In her plea, Salve said she underwent a psychological test at JJ Hospital in Mumbai in June 2016, where the doctors told her she suffered from “gender dysphagia”, and to lead a normal life she would have to undergo “sex reassignment” surgery.

Salve, in her petition, said she approached her seniors with a request to grant leave for the surgery, but they refused. She claimed the superintendent of police, Beed asked her not to undergo the sex reassignment surgery, violating her fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The constable also sought a direction to the superintendent of police of Beed to allow her to use her new identity – Lalit Salve – as a male in the police constabulary. She has sought medical expenses for the surgery and hormonal supplements.

CM directs police chief to allow cop to remain in force after operation

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered the director general of police, Satish Mathur, to allow woman constable Lalita Salve to work with the force even after a sex-change surgery.

Fadnavis told Hindustan Times the DGP has been directed to consider the petition sympathetically. “There are some legal issues which need to be sorted out. The police department will consider the request by resolving these issues,” he said.

According to the officials in the home department, it is one-of-its-kind case and needs to be considered after looking at all aspects. “There is no such provision in the service rule of government employees. Being a disciplined force with great importance to physical fitness, the permission could set a precedent. This will be applicable to other government employees too. The administration will have to consider legal, technical and administrative aspects before taking any decision on the petition,” said an official.

Lalita, who joined the police force seven years ago and is serving as constable in Beed district, applied for permission for the surgery and to continue in the force after the operation.

According to the sources in the home department, the permission will be given as one off case. “Salve has moved court, and directive in this case will help us in take a decision. The changes in the existing rule may by prompted based on the court directives,” he said.

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 22:48 IST