Why Maharashtra police rejected woman constable's plea for sex change

Lalita realised she was gay back in 2011 and sought permission from her seniors regarding her sex change after years of contemplation

A woman constable in Maharashtra sought permission from her seniors to undergo sex change operation and continue in the police force. However, her application was rejected. Lalita Salve, a 29-year-old police officer posted at Beed police station, Aurangabad, is reported to have submitted an application for sex change operation to her seniors about two months ago.

According to an Indian Express report, Lalita realised that she was gay back in 2011. After taking her family into confidence and after years of contemplation, she sought medical advice for the sex change surgery from JJ Hospital. After she was given a go-ahead by the doctors, Lalita wrote to her seniors for permission as she wanted to continue to work after her surgery.

Woman constable Sex change

InUth got in touch with Rajiv Talekar, Inspector, Beed police station and asked him about Lalita’s case. He said,

Lalita was posted at Beed police station for 2 years. We got to know about her decision for sex change about only 15 days back. We forwarded her application to the higher authorities.

G Sridhar, Superintendent of Police (Aurangabad Range) spoke to us and said,

We received Lalita’s application for sex change. She wishes to remain on duty after her operation. This is first such case that has come to light in Maharashtra police. At the beginning, we were all confused. But our Director General of Police rejected her application on Saturday as there is no such provision in the Maharashtra Police Service rules.

We got in touch with Lalita’s counsel, Ejaz Naqvi and he told us that they hadn’t filed the case in the High Court as yet. Further he stated,

Lalita contacted me in July this year and I drafted an application for the police department on September 17 for her sex change operation and continuation of her service thereafter. The Special Inspector General of Police (Aurangabad range), Milind Bharambe rejected the application on November 18. We have been told that it violates the Maharashtra Police Service Rules.

Ejaz Naqvi further added,

In fact, their decision violates the basic constitutional rights prescribed under Article 14 (right to equality), article 15 (prohibition of discrimination on the basis of caste, class, sex, religion race, birth), Article 16 (Equality in the matter of public employment) and Article 21 (right to life). The third gender has been discriminated against for far too long and it is unfair.

(Also read: Transgender rights: House panel proposed, govt rejects)

Unhappy with the police department’s response, Ejaz said,

They have told us that according to Rule 4 (1B) of the Maharashtra Police Service rules, the minimum height of male police officers has to be 165 cms, while of female police officers, it is 155 cms. Lalita’s height is 162 cms and they are taking this against her. They can change the rules to incorporate the rights of the third gender and be more sensitive but they are unwilling to do so.

According to the Indian Express report, a police official revealed that Lalita was selected through women’s reservation. Post the sex change, that reservation ceases and therefore the constable would have to again pass the qualification criteria.

When we asked Inspector Rajiv Talekar about Lalita’s decision to move HC, he told us,

It is her personal decision. Maybe the government will have to intervene and do something so that she can be allowed to continue her service even after the operation.

While SP G Sridhar added,

Now, she’ll have to decide what she has to do. If she decides to go to move HC, it will be a difficult battle ahead.

We tried to contact Lalita Salvi but her phone was switched off.

(Also read: Indian Navy sailor sacked after sex change: Here is how other countries tackle gender reassignment)

This is not first such case in India. Earlier the Indian Navy sacked a sailor for undergoing sex change surgery, terming it a breach in the eligibility criteria for employment. After she moved the court, the Delhi High Court directed the Centre to provide her with alternative employment options.