Women can now join the NDA, Centre tells Supreme Court
Women can be admitted to the National Defence Academy (NDA) for Permanent Commission in the Indian Armed forces, the central government told the Supreme Court today, marking a landmark move for gender equality in the field. The government has now asked for some time to frame guidelines in this regard. The top court has directed the Centre to file a reply by September 22.
"There is a piece of good news. A decision has been taken at the highest level of forces and government that women will be inducted for Permanent Commission through the National Defence Academy," Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati informed the court on Wednesday. The Centre, however, requested the court to exempt the current academic year from women entry, to allow making infrastructural changes.
The Supreme Court said it is "extremely glad" to learn about the decision. "We are extremely glad to know that the Armed forces themselves took the decision to induct women into the NDA. We know that reforms cannot happen in a day," an SC bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and MM Sundresh said, according to reports.
The Armed forces "need to do more for gender equality in the forces. We want them to take a proactive approach themselves in ensuring gender equality rather than waiting for courts to intervene," the court further remarked.
Just last month, the SC had criticized what it called a "mindset problem." It questioned why co-education is a problem in the Armed forces. In an interim order then, it had said that women can sit for the NDA admission exam, which is scheduled for November 14. Last February, the court had upheld the Delhi High Court order to allow Permanent Commission for women.
The Pune-based NDA was established in December 1954. At present, only male candidates can apply for its entrance exam. Men recruited through the NDA are granted Permanent Commission in the Armed forces. Women, on the other hand, are recruited as Short Service Commission (SSC) officers before being considered for Permanent Commission at a later stage in their career.