The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the Centre’s plea to defer the first National Defence Academy (NDA) exam for women candidates, and directed that women should be allowed to sit for the upcoming exam on November 14 saying ‘gender equality issues cannot be postponed’.
A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul refused to accept the Centre’s request to allow women candidates to appear for the entrance exam to the NDA from next year.
The bench said it doesn’t want women to be denied their right. The induction of women cannot be postponed by one year, it said.
“We cannot delay things by a year. We gave hope to the girls. We cannot deny them that hope now. This won’t send the right signal to women after having given them the aspiration. Let’s begin from this year,” the bench said.
“Women must be allowed to take the November 2021 exams. Cannot defer for one year. Medical standards should be tentatively notified. UPSC to issue a corrected notification for the November exam,” the Supreme Court said.
The direction comes a day after the Defence Ministry informed the top court that a notification allowing women candidates to appear for the exam would be out by May next year.
The top court pushed the Armed Forces to allow women to write the NDA exam in November this year, and not wait till May 2022.
The bench noted that postponing the process of allowing women to write the NDA exam to May will delay their induction to 2023.
To the Centre’s plea seeking more time till May 2022 for carrying out certain infrastructural and curriculum changes in view of the induction of women, the bench said the Armed Forces are trained to act in emergencies and it is hopeful that necessary arrangements will be put in place to pave the way for the induction of women in NDA without delay.
The top court said, “gender equality issues cannot be postponed”.
It said the needful should be done by the defence department in collaboration with the UPSC.
Earlier, the Centre in an affidavit told the apex court that a study group has been constituted by the defence services to expeditiously formulate a comprehensive curriculum for women cadets.
On September 8, the government had assured the court that the induction of women into the NDA was already under consideration by the Armed Forces.
On Tuesday, the Defence Ministry submitted to the Supreme Court an affidavit on induction of women into the Army, Navy and Air