Transgender sues Air India: SC asks Centre to formulate policy on employment to third gender

9 September, 2022 | Pranay Lad

Transgender sues Air India Headlines

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019 requires that appropriate accommodations for transgender people be made in all businesses covered by its provisions, and the Supreme Court...

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act of 2019 requires that appropriate accommodations for transgender people be made in all businesses covered by its provisions, and the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Center to develop a policy in that regard within three months.


In an interim decision, the government was urged to confer with all interested parties on developing an environment that would enable the third sex to find job prospects. The ruling came from the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli. According to the highest court, every institution must abide by the Act’s rules.

The highest court’s decision was based on a petition brought by transgender woman Shanavi Ponnuswamy, who claimed that Air India had turned her down for a post as a cabin attendant because of her gender identification.


But the airline’s representative in court argued that Ponnuswamy’s denial was due to her inability to achieve the required minimum grades in the Scheduled Caste category, not because she is a transgender woman.
In 2017, Chennai-based engineering graduate Shanavi Ponnusamy petitioned the Supreme Court.

In response to a job posting in 2017, Ponnusamy—a boy at birth who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2014—applied to work as a cabin crew with Air India. The carrier applied as a female because there was no third sex choice available. Ponnusamy said that since she is transgender, she was not hired.


Ponnusamy petitioned the top court to overturn Air India’s hiring standards, which included a group discussion and a personality screening test for those interested in applying for cabin crew positions. She claimed she was denied employment because she is transgender and the positions were reserved only for men or women.

The petition also made reference to a Supreme Court decision from 2014 that set forth guidelines for the protection of transgender people’s rights by adding a third category to papers.

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