Faizan Siddiqui, the petitioner, was diagnosed with a congenital anomaly named Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome and a Disorder of Sexual Differentiation (DSD). This meant that despite being born male, her body was not responsive to male hormones. Hence, she identified as female. She underwent surgery at a young age to remove her testes, followed by vaginoplasty and consumed female hormone pills. Her medical certificate stated that barring natural pregnancy, she could lead a life akin to any other woman. She could also choose any career she wished. Faizan applied for the post of a female constable with the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). She qualified and passed all the selection criteria. However, on a medical examination, SSB found her medically unfit and rejected her candidature. The Medical Board diagnosed her with “congenital anomaly and pseudohermaphroditism”. Faizan was not found to be a “healthy fit fighting female candidate” on the basis of her lifelong dependence on the female hormone pills.
ISSUES & DECISION:
The Court considered whether SSB consulted relevant experts and evidence in rejecting Faizan’s application. It deliberated upon the reason for SSB’s actions and discussed whether SSB followed a reasonable procedure in rejecting Faizan’s candidature.
Was Faizan medically unfit?
The court relied on the medical certificates Faizan produced. They declare her to be fit enough to undertake any career as any other woman. It negated SSB’s stand that her medication would cause an “adverse reaction in due course of time” as the SSB failed to produce any medical or scientific evidence to support such a statement.
The court also examined the functions expected of female SSB personnel. The Court found no relation between Faizan’s medical condition and the job description. On SSB’s fears that her inability to bear children naturally might lead to “adjustment problems in later life”, the court held that SSB had not listed infertility as a grounds for medical unfitness. Hence, this was not a valid reason to reject Faizan on the grounds of medical unfitness.
Did appropriate experts examine Faizan?
The Court also looked into whether SSB evaluated Faizan’s application with the requisite expertise. It relied on the International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) Policy on Gender Verification, IAAF and Anti-Doping Commission, 2006 which recommends that a gynaecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, internal medicine specialist, and an expert on gender/transgender issues must make decisions on DSD. The court observed that the doctors on the SSB medical board who evaluated Faizan’s application possessed only MBBS degrees. Hence, it held that their decision to dismiss her candidature was arbitrary.
Therefore, the Court directed SSB to re-evaluate Faizan’s physical standards and physical efficiency. If Faizan cleared the tests, she would be entitled to be recruited into the SSB.
By relying on specialized international guidelines, the Court has broadened the scope of protections available to intersex persons in their recruitment to services, employment or in sports. Nevertheless, the extensive analysis of the petitioner’s genitalia and excessive reference to her medical history is prejudicial to the right to privacy and dignity as well as the right to self-identification of gender.