Maharashtra woman cop will remain in service - as policeman

Mumbai, Nov 24 (IANS): In an unprecedented move, the Maharashtra government on Thursday said it had decided to permit a woman cop to undergo a sex change operation and continue in the state police as a 'policeman'.

"Yes, I have requested the Director General of Police (Satish Mathur) to consider her case favourably," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told IANS.

Woman constable Lalita Kumari Salve, 28, had joined the Maharashtra Police in May 2010 and is currently serving in Majalgaon City police station in Beed district.

An official from the Chief Minister's Office said Fadnavis spoke to Mathur late on Wednesday on the woman's application for permission to continue in service after her sex-change operation, which was earlier rejected by the Home Department.

Following the rejection, Salve moved the Bombay High Court on Thursday against the state government.

"I have the support of my parents and other family members," Salve, who has two siblings, told mediapersons on Thursday.

Salve's case has been debated on social media and police circles, with many supporting her desire for a new gender identity and to continue serving in the force.

Officials said the ticklish issue facing the government was the fact that she was selected in the women's quota that specifies certain physical parameters different from those specified for male recruits, especially those pertaining to height and weight.

However, with Fadnavis inclined to support Salve's case, officials are hopeful that police authorities may consider certain concessions in the matter since it was an unusual case with wide ramifications on the issue of gender equality, discrimination and rights of sexual minorities.

Salve, who changed her name to 'Lalit Kumar Salve' last month, moved the Bombay High Court through her lawyer Syed Ejaz Abbas Naqvi, challenging the Beed Superintendent of Police's order of November 20 to reject her leave for sex-reassignment surgery (SRS).

Her application was rejected earlier by DGP Mathur, IGP (Aurangabad Range) Milind Bharambe and Beed Superintendent of Police G. Sreedhar.

In her petition, she said "she was a female and had developed transsexual gender symptoms for the last two-three years.

"... in the absence of due medial care from the state or her department, she/he continued to live under serious mental trauma and social stigma," her petition read.

A literature graduate from the Lokmanya Tilak College in Beed, Salve said she informed her superiors in June 2016 about her agony and sought remedy to her problems but they failed to heed her request.

Salve said when she applied for a month's leave for the SRS in September, the department said her application was 'strange' and was under consideration at the DGP-level.

She contended that instead of giving her permission for the surgery, the government pressurised her through physical and emotional threats, instead of respecting her as a person with gender disability or hormonal imbalances.

Salve pleaded that she should be permitted leave for the SRS, be given a new identity to continue in service as a male police official post-surgery, and reimbursement of all expenses incurred on surgery and her legal fight.

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