SC gives one more month to Centre for giving permanent commission to all women officers in Army

The top court had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission and command postings.

July 07, 2020 01:03 pm | Updated 10:46 pm IST - New Delhi

Captain Tania Shergill, the first woman Army officer led the men contingent as they march past at the Republic day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi in January 2020.

Captain Tania Shergill, the first woman Army officer led the men contingent as they march past at the Republic day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi in January 2020.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a one-month extension to the government to implement its February 17 judgment to grant permanent commission/command posts to eligible women officers in the armed forces.


Appearing before a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, the Centre, represented by senior advocate R. Balasubramanian, said the process of implementation of the judgment was at an “advanced state” and a circular would be issued soon.


Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, for petitioner Babita Puniya, and Meenakshi Lekhi said the government was creating hurdles in the implementation of the judgment.


However, Mr. Balasubramanian dismissed the contentions as “wild apprehensions”, and assured the court that the government was fully complying with the judgment.


On February 17, the court dismissed the government’s submissions that women were physiologically weaker than men as a “sex stereotype” and declared that Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers were eligible for permanent commission and command posts in the Army irrespective of their years of service.


“Women officers of the Indian Army have brought laurels to the force… Their track record of service to the nation is beyond reproach. To cast aspersions on their abilities on the ground of gender is an affront not only to their dignity as women but to the dignity of the members of the Indian Army — men and women — who serve as equal citizens in a common mission. The time has come for a realisation that women officers in the Army are not adjuncts to a male dominated establishment whose presence must be ‘tolerated’ within narrow confines,” Justice Chandrachud had observed in a 54-page judgment in the Army case.


Navy case

Similarly, a month later, on March 17, the court upheld the right of serving Short Service Commission women officers of the Navy to be granted permanent commission on par with their male counterparts.

The court said the “101 excuses” devised by the government to deter women from being on a par with men, including motherhood and physiological limitations, reeks of a stereotypical mindset.


“The battle for gender equality is about confronting the battles of the mind. In the context of the Armed Forces, specious reasons have been advanced by decision makers and administrators. They range from physiology, motherhood and physical attributes to the male dominated hierarchies,” Justice Chandrachud observed in a 64-page judgment in the Navy case.

The Supreme Court at the time ordered the government to implement its decision in three months.

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