Women Army officers on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court to debunk the defence establishment’s announcement that 422 of 615 women officers screened have been found “fit” for a permanent commission. They said the announcement was more optics than substance.
In fact, they said, only less than 50% of the women officers have been actually granted permanent commission (PC). They stated that the actual number of women officers “granted” PC would come to about 277 - less than half of 615 - women officers spread across 31 batches in 10 Arms/Services of the Army.
Compared to this number, 90% male officers have been cleared for PC in the Army.
‘Announcement more optics than substance’
“The exercise for grant of PC has been carried out more in optics, than in substance, rendering itself to be yet another instance of lip-service, adding to the long unfortunate chain of symbolic and pyrrhic victories. Denying PC to scores of extremely meritorious and outstanding women officers based on unknown, undisclosed and surreptitious parameters, deviating from the settled norms as applied to gentlemen officers while granting them PC, smacks of gross arbitrariness”, the women officers, represented by advocates Chitrangda Rastravara and Archana Pathak Dave, submitted in an urgent application.
It said the number ‘422’ being projected was “highly fallacious and misleading”.
It claimed that the Army had cobbled up the figure of 422 by including 57 women officers who have opted out of PC though fit; another 42 who are in the temporary lowmedical categories; and those whose results have been withheld either due to non-receipt of the requisite medical documents or on administrative grounds.
“Hence, the figure 422 is reached after taking into account several categories and it clearly reflects that the Army has not granted PC to even 50% of the total number of women officers distributed across 31 batches”, the application submitted.
The results of the Permanent Commission Board was announced on November 19.
However, the application filed by several women officers led by Lt. Col. Ashu Yadav said the Army set out arbitrary medical thresholds for them during the screening process for PC.
These, they said, were criteria aimed to “eliminate women officers on arbitrary grounds”.
The Supreme Court, in a judgment on February 17, upheld a 2010 Delhi High Court judgment to grant PC for women Army officers .
The apex court verdict had dismissed views that women were physiologically weaker than men as a “sex stereotype”.
“Women officers of the Indian Army have brought laurels to the force… Their track record of service to the nation is beyond reproach”, the it observed in the judgment.