Is fat fit? In certain circumstances, yes, the Delhi high court has said. The court said that the question, is not raised in the sense of physical well being. Accumulated medical wisdom would have us believe that weight brings with it several health related problems; such as, hyper tension, cardio vascular disease, etcetera. What has to be thus, kept in mind is that, the question posed is, contextual and not generic.
Writing a common judgement for three cases one each by Sangita Garg, Punita Bakshi & Sona Chawla against the NACIL (National Aviation Company of India Ltd.), Justice Rajiv Shakdher, in this important ruling directed Indian Airlines (now NACIL) to reinstate three air hostesses who had been dismissed for gaining weight with full backwages and consequential benefits.
To access the common judgement click here: Sangeeta Garg Versus Indian Airlines WP(C) 30/ 2010
Justice Shakdher further observed while ruling in favour of the three women, " It is quite clear that Indian Airlines Ltd has not applied its mind to germane factors before taking a decision to terminate the petitioners' services. The reasons given had no link with the conclusion reached which was to dispense with the services of the petitioners," Justice Shakdher observed while ruling in favour of the three women.
HC directed IA to take back in service the women with full back wages and all consequential benefits, rejecting the argument of the airlines that contract for appointment itself made it clear that excess weight will lead to dismissal.
The women who had joined IA as air-hostesses, were till their termination from service, deployed as ground staff. The airline dismissed them on the ground they failed to maintain weight within the prescribed limits.
On their part, the women didn't seek redeployment as cabin crew but continuance of their present job as ground staff. They argued they were removed summarily without being given a chance to answer the allegations. They further pointed out that facts and circumstances in each of the three cases were different which is why they gained weight. For example one of the petitioners had a medical condition while another was being put to extreme stress by her estranged husband and in-laws.
Defending its decision IA maintained even if the women were medically fit, to continue with their services it could be terminated under the terms of the contract upon their failure to maintain weight as per prescribed limits. It added that indulgence over several years was granted to the women despite which, they were unable to bring their weight within the prescribed limit, leading to their dismissal. IA further argued that it is in travel industry where pleasing appearance, manners and physical fitness was required of members of both sexes. But HC was not convinced, holding in essence that termination from service for employees who were not in active flight duties was too severe an act.
Related Story in Times of India : Air Hostesses sacked for weitht to get back jobs