The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by the women officers of Indian Army seeking an extension of the last date for the eligibility for service benefits.
The apex court ruled that the modifications will have serious implications on the future batches.
It was after the Supreme Court ordered the Indian Army in February this year to grant permanent commission to women officers within three months, that the Army started the process to give serving women officers a bigger role.
A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi, had said, “Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers, both within the period of fourteen years’ service and beyond, should equally be entitled to consideration for the grant of PCs.” The court insisted on shaking off typical arguments founded on the physical strengths and weaknesses of men and women and on assumptions about women in the social context of marriage and family that do not constitute a constitutionally valid basis for denying equal opportunity to women officers.
“To cast aspersion on their abilities on the ground of gender is an affront not only to their dignity as women but to the dignity of the members of the Indian Army – men and women who serve as equal citizens in a common mission,” noted the top court.
The Indian Army then had stated that all women officers serving in the force from now on would be considered for permanent commission.
The court in its order had said that the women officers who had served for more than 14 years in the SSC, but were unable to get a permanent commission would get to serve for 20 years.
Today, in their petition, the women officers who failed to pass the cut-off date, falling around one month short of completing 14 years, wanted the Army to provide them with an option to serve for 20 years.
On behalf of the women officers, Meenakshi Lekhi said that the order accepting the cut-off date came in July so these women could be accommodated and receive the benefit of pension from 20 years’ service.
Heading the bench hearing the petition, Justice DY Chandrachud, “Our judgment said those who had completed 14 years of service, as on the date of the judgment, will get pension and PC benefits. The cut-off is the date of the judgment. If we modify it, we will have to modify for successive batches.”
Justice KM Joseph, also on the bench, said, “It will have serious implications. Every batch will be completing 14 years.”