The Supreme Court said, on Friday, that courts cannot run the affairs of the Indian Army when the court was told that the women officers were being discriminated against in being given the command of a unit. While acknowledging the gravity of the issue, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, heading a bench also comprising Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra, said the courts can’t run the Army’s affairs.
The observation from the bench came after senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the petitioner women officers, told the bench that male junior officers were commanding units, but women colonels were being given command of only companies, which are managed by officers two ranks below colonel.
Recognizing the gravity of the issue and stating that the court can only intervene on the principles of law, the bench said that the court’s role does not involve the direct management or interference in the Army’s operational decisions.
“But we cannot run the affairs of the Army and how companies are commanded. We can intervene in principles of law, but we surely cannot run the affairs of the Army,” the CJI said, pointing to the limits that the court can intervene in matters involving the armed forces.
The CJI Chandrachud observed, “We interfere in those cases on issues of principles. Surely, we can’t start running the command structure of the Army.”
The bench requested the attorney general, R Venkataramani, to look into the grievance, to which he agreed.
The petition was filed by a woman colonel who was given the charge of a company of soldiers, which is ordinarily commanded by a major, two ranks her junior.
The top court posted the matter for further hearing on September 27 and said there are issues that can surely be sorted out by the authorities themselves.