The Supreme Court today said that women officers in the Indian Army will get command positions on par with the male officers as the Centre is obligated to do so after the judgment of Delhi High Court in 2010. “Physiological features of women have no link to their rights. The mindset must change,” SC said and that “to cast aspersions on ability of women and their role and achievements in Army is an insult not only to women but also to Indian Army,” the SC added.
The permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Army in service, irrespective of their years of service.
Earlier on February 5, while reserving its order, the top court had asked all parties concerned to submit all notes and submissions.
SC had said if there is a will and a change in mindset on the part of the government, then women officers could be allocated command posts in the Army. The court also pointed out that there are many other services along with combat operations where women could be accommodated.
In a note to the SC, the Centre said that limits on “physical prowess” and “physiological limitations” are the challenges for women officers to meet the exigencies of service in Army.
Today the apex court said that the Centre, by not giving permanent commission to women officers, had prejudiced the case.
SC said, “Centre waited for nine years before coming out with a notification in 2019 allowing permanent commission to women in eight streams. The Centre’s policy decision of 2019 recognises that physiological features has no role in allowing permanent commissions to women officers.”
“Despite policy decision, the Centre submitted a note to the Supreme Court which perpetuates sex stereotypes. Arguments by the Centre founded on physical strength of men and women and grounds of motherhood, family etc violates equality,” it further added.
Earlier, the Counsel for the women petitioners had argued that there is discrimination from the beginning, and they have not received the dues, an issue originating from discrimination. The counsel also added that Short Service Commission was introduced in 2006.
The petitioner also cited the difference in training in the SSC and candidates who pass out from the Indian Military Academy, as they have permanent entry. This results in adjustment in seniority, as candidate move from the SSC to Permanent Commission. This adjustment ensures that they don’t surpass the ones who’ve come from the Indian Military Academy.
The court observed earlier that if the High Court were to be complied in this matter, then women would have been entitled to be considered for Permanent Commission.
The Centre in its written note submitted in the apex court earlier this month had said that that women officers up to 14 years of service would be considered for permanent commissions and further career progression in staff appointments only and above 14 years of service could serve up to 20 years without consideration for permanent commission and would be released with pensionary benefits subject to meeting disciplinary and medical criteria. While, the women officers having over 20 years of service would be released with pensionary benefits.