Transgender sailor files petition in Delhi HC after being discharged from Navy

A transgender sailor of the Indian Navy has filed a petition in the Delhi HC, alleging discrimination after she underwent sex reassignment surgery (SRS), seeking quashing of the order of discharge issued by the Navy. The matter came before the Division Bench comprising of Justice GS Sistani and Justice V Kameswar Rao on Monday (October 30th).

The petitioner who was assigned male gender at birth, named Manish Kumar Giri, enrolled as a young sailor in the Indian Navy in 2010 after clearing all the written, physical and medical tests. She underwent the SRS in October, 2016 and began using the name Sabi Gari. In November, 2016, when she was admitted in INHS Kalyani after a complaint of pain in the perineum region, it was then that the Navy found out about her surgery . After an extended period of detention in INHS Kalyani, she was discharged from service on October 4th, 2017.

The petition was filed by Advocates Amritananda Chakrovarty and Mihir Samson, who submitted that the ground of discharge was violative of her fundamental rights to equality, non discrimination, freedom of gender expression, dignity, autonomy and health guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Senior Advocate Anand Grover argued the case on behalf of the petitioner. 

The petition also challenged the validity of Section 9 of the Navy Act, 1957, which permits enrolment of male sailors while limiting the entry of female sailors in the navy to only certain specified departments.

ASG Sanjay Jain appearing on behalf of the Ministry of Defense submitted that despite being respectful of the choice of the petitioner, the point of contention was whether a woman can be recruited as a sailor of the Indian Navy.

The Court stated that while sympathetic to the cause of the petitioner, it refused to interfere in the policy decisions of the Indian Navy. It was said that only the Navy could hold whether it could accommodate a female sailor or not. However, the bench also called for a change in mindset and asked the Navy to consider the option of giving her another job within the Navy.

The matter is listed for hearing on November 23rd.

Read the full text of the petition here.