India

Permanent commission for women in army sc upholds delhi hc verdict raps centre over sex stereotypes

Permanent commission for women in army sc upholds delhi hc verdict raps centre over sex stereotypes
Citing cases of women’s contribution to the armed forces, the apex court said that the Centre should grant permanent commission to women officers.

The Supreme Court on Monday criticised the central government for not following the Delhi High Court’s 2010 order granting permanent commission to women Army officers and said the submissions of Centre against it were based on “sex stereotypes”. Upholding the high court’s order, the apex court said that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Army in service, irrespective of their years of service.

“There is no reason and justification for the union of India not to act as per the Delhi High Court verdict. On September 2, 2011, the Supreme Court has clarified this aspect and said there is no stay on the high court verdict. Despite that scant regard has been paid to the verdict of Delhi High Court and the order of Supreme Court as well,” the bench said.

Citing cases of women’s contribution to the armed forces, Justice DY Chandrachud while reading the order said that the contentions of the Centre regarding the issue of physiological limitations and social norms to deny an opportunity to women officers are disturbing and can’t be accepted.

It also ruled that absolute exclusion of women from command appointments and considering them only for staff appointments indefensible and that they should be considered for command posts on case to case basis.

SC gives govt time to reconsider move on permanent commission to women in Army

In May last year, the Centre in an affidavit had said that women Army officers who had completed 14 years of short service commission will be allowed to remain in service till they completed 20 years of service so that they become eligible for pensionary benefits, implying they will not be granted permanent commission.

Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi termed it a “fantastic decision” by the court. “Government’s political will has been implemented. Now, the court has implemented it and flaked the authorities who were not implementing it,” she said.

Women Army officers who moved the Supreme Court for a permanent commission had in February this countered objections raised by the Centre against giving them command posts in the ten command support arms where they are currently working saying denying them the posts will be an “extremely retrograde step” and “will inflict irreparable injury” to their dignity.

In their written submission, filed through senior Advocate Aishwarya Bhati, the officers also objected to the contention that given the current composition of the largely male Army and the background of the troops, they “are not yet mentally schooled to accept WOs (Woman Officers) in command of Units”.

On Independence Day 2018, PM Narendra Modi had announced the decision to grant permanent commission in the armed forces to women officers who had been selected through short service commission. In March 2019, the defence ministry announced that women officers inducted through short service commission would be considered for permanent commission in eight more branches.