At present, women are allowed in select areas such as the medical, legal, educational, signals and engineering wings of the Indian Army. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
The Supreme Court cleared way for the women officers to hold command posts in the Indian Army on Monday. The court ruled that the order must be complied with in next three months. Reading out the judgment, Justice DY Chandrachud termed, “induction of women in army as an evolutionary process as he narrates the history.” The top court said that, “women can't be totally ruled out for command assignments and that they will be considered on a case by case basis.” In the landmark ruling, the apex court said that, “all terms of appointments of women officers in the Army shall henceforth be same as their male counterparts. Women officers shall be entitled to all consequential benefits as per the order. These will include even those who have even retired.”
It is a fantastic decision by the Court. Government's political will has been implemented, says BJP leader @M_Lekhi after Supreme Court rules in favour of permanent commission to women officers— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) February 17, 2020
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“No ground to deny women officers the Permanent Commission even if they have completed 14 years. New policy decision to benefit all SSC women officers. SSC (Short Service Commission) women officers less than 14 as well as beyond 14 years of service will be granted Permanent Commission,” the top court said. While giving the order, the Supreme Court also highlighted that, “Salient decision of Union's decision to give Permanent Commission to women in 10 wings has been a step in the right direction.”
“Physiological features of women have no link to their rights,” the Supreme Court said. It also added that ‘mindset must change’. At present, women are allowed in select areas such as the medical, legal, educational, signals and engineering wings of the Indian Army.
The Centre had earlier appealed against Delhi High Court's directions for granting permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army. The Centre had pointed out to issues, including "physical prowess" and "physiological limitations" as challenges for women officers. The Defence Ministry filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the 2010 Delhi High Court order that said women must be given permanent commission in the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. It should be noted that the ruling will not impact the 'no women in combat zone' policy of the Indian Army.
During arguments before the Supreme Court, the Defence Ministry had argued that women could not be allowed in combat posts because their safety and security needs were different from male officers. It also noted that male jawans in forward areas were not trained to listen to women officers and would not follow their orders.
Serving women officers in the Indian Army called the Centre’s stand in the Supreme Court “regressive” and said it is “completely contrary to the demonstrated record and statistics”. In their written submission to the court, the women officers said they have been serving in the 10 Combat Support Arms, for the last 27 to 28 years and have proven their mettle and courage under fire.