The Delhi High Court has urged the Centre to give alternative employment options to a transsexual sailor who was removed from service after having a sex change operation. Though the Division bench of Justices VK Rao and GS Sistani stated that the court would not interfere with the policy decision of the Navy, it called for a ‘change in mindset’ and asked the Ministry of Defence to consider Saba Giri (born as Manish Giri) for another job. It asked the ministry to consider the case similar to that of an injured Air Force pilot who is given ground duty instead of being removed from service.
The bench said,
Here is an opportunity to look at it from a different perspective. It may be a first-of-its-kind situation. Here is a person struggling with gender identity. Had she suppressed the condition and continued, it would have been dangerous. It could have been fatal.
The Indian Navy had recently sacked the 25-year-old for undergoing gender reassignment surgery, terming it a breach in the eligibility criteria for her employment as a sailor. Appearing for the Ministry of Defence, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain said that the authorities were not judgemental and respected the choice made by the petitioner, however, Saba Giri was discharged as the Navy was not ready to accept female sailors. Jain also told the court the Giri had taken leave without informing seniors and came back after the surgery in a bad shape due to infections for which she was treated at a Navy hospital.
The petition filed on Giri’s behalf challenged the Indian Navy’s regulation of only allowing enrolment of male sailors and also averred that Giri was subjected to solitary confinement in a detention cell for two months during which she was allegedly only allowed to wear undergarments and forced to remain bare-chested.