SC clears permanent commission, command roles for women Army officers
In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to grant permanent commission to all women officers in the Army. The apex court also held that women officers will now be eligible for command postings. Further, the court noted that the Centre's arguments against the same were "discriminatory," "disturbing" and rooted in gender-based stereotypes. Here are more details.
SC allows permanent commission to women officers post 14-years' service
An SC bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi said, "We see no reason not to grant permanent commission to those who have had more than 14 years in service." The court observed that there was a "fundamental fallacy" in the Centre's policy, which considered only those women, who served less than 14 years in the Short Service Commission (SSC), for permanent commission.
SC raps Centre for defying 2010 HC ruling
The apex court also pulled up the Centre for denying women officers the option of permanent commission, despite a Delhi High Court's 2010 ruling. The 2010 HC verdict made women officers eligible for permanent commission, matching their male counterparts. Upholding the 2010 verdict, the SC on Monday ordered the Centre to implement the ruling within three months' time.
'Scant regard paid to Delhi HC, SC'
The court said, "There is no reason and justification for the union of India not to act as per the Delhi HC verdict." It added, "On September 2, 2011, the SC clarified this aspect and said there is no stay on the HC verdict. Despite that scant regard has been paid to the verdict of Delhi HC and the order of SC as well."
'Blanket ban on command posting for women unsustainable in law'
Reportedly, the court also observed that the "blanket ban on command posting (for women officers) cannot be sustained in law." The court said that the Centre's arguments perpetuate the "flawed notion" that "women are the weaker sex."
In 2019, Centre extended permanent commission to women officers
After the 2010 HC ruling, the Centre issued a policy in 2019, extending permanent commission to women officers of all 10 streams. However, the Defence Ministry had also challenged the 2010 HC order, seeking the denial of women officers in the Army. The case became controversial after the Centre submitted its arguments against the HC order, which have now been deemed "discriminatory."
Centre argued women's physiological differences; acceptance among male troops
In its arguments against granting permanent commission to women officers, the Centre had cited physiological differences between men and women. The government also argued that male troops may not be ready to accept women in commanding positions. The apex court opined that the Centre's arguments in the matter were "disturbing," in addition to being contrary to its own 2019 policy.
'It's time women officers are not adjunct to male counterparts'
"To cast aspersions on gender is an affront to their dignity and to the country. Time has come that women officers are not adjunct to their male counterparts," said the apex court, adding that women officers have brought laurels to the country.