PERMANENT COMMISSION OF WOMEN IN INDIAN ARMY – ISSUES OF EQUALITY AND DISCRIMINATION

ABSTRACT

In the feminist history of India, the day on which Supreme Court gave its verdict on granting permanent commission of women in Indian army was historic. As per the decision of the honourable Supreme Court of India, the women who are enrolled in the Short Service Commission of the army can now have easily access to permanent commission of women Indian army .It challenges the social taboos existed in male dominated society. Generally, Army is often considered as the working area of male but , it was not the case . Thus, the historic decision of the Supreme Court of India throw water on those who discriminate between men and women in terms of their physical traits. In real terms this verdict was actually assailing the male chauvinism pre-occupied in our Indian society.

INTRODUCTION

The participation of women in Indian army have been a series of struggle. The stories of their struggle are noteworthy. For instance ,147 women officers granted Permanent Commission .In it’s judgements , the Supreme Court has said that in the Short Service Commission (SSC) serving in the field of education, law and logistics cadre of the navy should be considered as the grant of permanent commission. A number of women army officers ,who have been denied permanent commission even after the supreme court intervention Army officials will approach the Armed Forces Tribunals against the released order issued to them.

The officers said,” I have been impeccable and clean record, awarded for exemplary work. ” Results of the some of the officers it had said, were withheld for administrative reasons and awaiting outcome of the clarification petition filed by the government. One of the main concern of the feminists are that women must avail the opportunities at par with their male counterparts Permanent commission of women in Indian army
Women engaged on Short Service Commission in the army seek parity with their male counterparts in obtaining Permanent Commissions. The entry of women in the army has a chequered history. According to Section 12 of the Army Act 1950, barring women for enrollment and employment in the army is illustrated. Pursuant to power conferred by Section 12,the union government issued a notification dated 30th January, 1992 making women eligible for appointment.

PROPOSAL OF THE UNION GOVERNMENT

The Union of India states that the services in the Army are classified into three broad categories: (i) Combat Arms; (ii) Combat Support Arms; and (iii) Services. SSC for women was available only in Combat Support Arms and Services. Combat Arms have been excluded for SSC appointments for women in the Army. The the judgment of the Delhi High Court has also affirmed this position. In 2008, the benefit of PC was extended to SSC women officers in the JAG and AEC which belonged to the Services stream. As a consequence of the judgment of the Delhi High Court, it has been held that in all streams where the Army has provided the option for SSC women officers, there should be no impediment for extending the option for the conferment of PCs. The effect of the judgment is that all SCC women officers in different disciplines in the Combat Support Arms and in the Services category to whom the judgment applies have continued in service beyond the maximum permissible term of fourteen years as SSC officers.

OPINION OF THE SUPPORTERS OF PERMANENT COMMISION OF WOMEN IN INDIAN ARMY

Ms Meenakshi Lekhi and Ms Aishwarya Bhati have highlighted, during the course of their submissions, the following aspects of the policy letter dated 25 February 2019 which are discriminatory:(i).In response to para 4: Male SSC officers are required to exercise their option for the grant of PC prior to the completion of ten years of service. SSC women officers are required to exercise their option on the completion of three years of service and prior to the completion of four years of service.

With comparatively lesser experience at the stage when they are required to exercise an option, women officers lack adequate experience to take a considered decision and the possibility of being granted PC is comparatively lower;(ii).In response to para 6: Restricting SSC women officers only to staff appointments is to prevent their career growth by restraining them within vacancy restrictions, promotions and placements; (iii)In response to para 9: Application of the policy prospectively is designed to keep away senior women officers outside the ambit of PC. The Army is misconstruing the prospective application of the policy to give the benefit to women officers inducted after the date of the policy.

On the other hand, for the JAG and AEC officers, the prospective application has been interpreted by the Army to grant benefit to officers Seventy years after the birth of a post-colonial independent state, there is still a need for change in attitudes and mindsets to recognize the commitment to the values of the Constitution. This is evident from the submissions which were placed as a part of the record of this Court.Courts are indeed conscious of the limitations which issues of national security and policy impose on the judicial evolution of doctrine in matters relating to the Armed forces.

CONCLUSION

An absolute bar on women seeking criteria or command appointments would not comport with the guarantee of equality under Article 14. Implicit in the guarantee of equality is that where the action of the State does differentiate between two classes of persons, it does not differentiate them in an unreasonable or irrational manner. In this sense, even at its bare minimum, the right to equality is a right to rationality.   In the present case the Army has provided no justification in discharging its burden as to why women across the board should not be considered for any criteria or command appointments. Command assignments are not automatic for men SSC officers who are granted PC and would not be automatic for women either. The absolute exclusion of women from all others except staff assignments is indefensible. If the army has cogent reasons for excluding women from a particular criteria or command appointment, it may provide them to the relevant authorities and if necessary, to future courts. However, such a justification must take place on a case-to-case basis, in light of the requirements and exigencies of a particular appointment.

REFERENCES

  • Indian Express
  • Judgement of Supreme Court of India on Permanent Commission of Women in Indian Army

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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