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Supreme Court tells Army: Grant permanent commission to women officers

Pronouncing its verdict on a batch of women officers' petitions seeking permanent Commission in the Indian Army and Navy, the Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah questioned the Army for denying Permanent Commission to the petitioners by requiring them to have the same fitness standards which are mandated for 25-year-old male officers. 

Supreme Court tells Army Grant permanent commission to women officers-VPN
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New Delhi, First Published Mar 25, 2021, 1:42 PM IST
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On Thursday, the Supreme Court directed the Indian Army to consider the grant of the permanent commission for women officers within a month and allow Permanent Commission within two months after following the due process.

Pronouncing its verdict on a batch of women officers' petitions seeking permanent Commission in the Indian Army and Navy, the Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah questioned the Army for denying Permanent Commission to the petitioners by requiring them to have the same fitness standards which are mandated for 25-year-old male officers. 

The Apex Court said there could not be a "perverse inequality" in the Armed Forces.

While delving into many issues, including medical criteria, Justice Chandrachud said that the fundamental postulate in submissions of Additional Solicitor General is that evaluation of competitive merit is necessary.

"We must also look into another end of the spectrum," Justice Chandrachud said.

In an over 100-page long judgement, the Bench said, "We have firstly dealt with the issue of ACR evaluation and then with the medical criteria."

On statics advanced by the Indian Army, Justice Chandrachud said it discloses two things -- 250 post ceiling has not been crossed till 2010. The statistics placed on record completely demolish the case of benchmarking.

Justice Chandrachud also observed that women officers' qualification and achievement after 5th and 10th year in service had been ignored.

Stating that physical fitness is crucial for the Army, Justice Chandrachud said that the Court has to be circumspect to intervene during the judicial review.

While asserting that women had not come before it for charity, he said that physical fitness is crucial for securing a position in the army.

Reacting to the verdict, petitioner Capt Amrit Kaur (Retd) said: "To wear the Olive greens has been a matter of pride and honour for women officers too as much as it is for their male counterparts."

"By quashing the patriarchal theory of men's supremacy over women and pronouncing the procedure of not granting Permanent Commission to a huge number of deserving, highly qualified and decorated lady officers as discriminatory, disturbing, and based on stereotype, yet again the Supreme Court has restored our faith by giving a fair judgement to the women officers of the Indian Army."

"The Indian Army has been directed to grant permanent commission across the board to the deserving ladies. It was disgraceful and a huge blow to these women officers' dignity and honour while they were asked to leave so unceremoniously. They deserve every bit of this respect and honour that has been restored," she added.

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