Move Tribunal for leave to undergo sex-change surgery: Bombay HC to lady cop

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to hear a petition filed by a 28-year-old police constable seeking a direction to the Maharashtra DGP to grant her leave to undergo a sex-change surgery and directed her to approach the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT).

Lalita Salve, who now prefers to be called Lalit, had sought a month’s leave to undergo the sex reassignment surgery, but the request was refused by the Beed police authorities.

She filed a petition in the high court last week, seeking a direction to the Maharashtra’s police chief to grant her leave for the surgery.

A division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and Bharti Dangre on Friday disposed of the petition and said this was a service matter and hence the petitioner will have to first approach the tribunal.

The court refused to accept Salve’s lawyer Ejaz Naqvi’s contention that the matter also pertains to the fundamental rights of a person.

“We do not think that the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal would be unsympathetic to the petitioner’s grievances. We have never seen in any case the tribunal brushing aside matters without proper application of mind and without hearing all the parties concerned,” the court said.

According to the petition, Salve, born in June 1988, noticed changes in her body three years ago and underwent medical tests, which confirmed the presence of Y chromosome in her body.

While men have X and Y sex chromosomes, women have two X chromosomes.

“The petitioner later undertook counselling sessions with psychiatrists at the state-run JJ Hospital. The doctors detected that she had a gender dysphoria abnormality and advised her to undergo a sex reassignment surgery, if she was willing to and was of sound mind,” the petition said.

Subsequently, Salve approached senior police officials and sought a month’s medical leave to undergo the surgery.

“Last week, the superintendent of police (SP) of Beed district informed the petitioner that she could not undergo a sex reassignment surgery and refused to grant her leave,” the petition said.

It contended that the said decision of the Beed police authorities was violative of the petitioner’s fundamental rights.