Women to be inducted into Territorial Army

Clearing the path for induction of women in the Territorial Army, the Delhi High Court on Friday observed that any provision that bars them from joining the Force was against the Fundamental Rights provided under the Constitution.

Territorial Army is an organisation of volunteers who receive military training in order to be mobilised for the country’s defence in case of an emergency.

“Women are eligible for recruitment and appointment to the Territorial Army under Section 6 of the Indian Territorial Army Act, 1948,” a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar said.

It said the government has not given any rationale to justify its action of enforcing a bar against recruitment of women in the force.

Women to be inducted into Territorial Army

The court noted that more and more countries have moved away from positions of total prohibition to permitting recruitment of women even in combat roles in the armed forces. It listed around 22 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, which permit recruitment of women even in combat roles.

Eligibility rules

Section 6 of the Territorial Army Act lays down rules on who is eligible for enrolment in the Territorial Army, which is also known as the second line of defence after the regular Army.

The High Court said the words “any person” in Section 6 shall include both men and women.

The court order came after a PIL was filed by lawyer Kush Kalra seeking to quash the provisions in the Territorial Army Act which prohibit gainfully employed women from being recruited in the force.

Contending that not allowing women to join amounted to “institutionalised discrimination” and went against the Constitution’s spirit, the petitioner claimed the state had a duty to ensure no discrimination was practised by anyone in the country.

“At present, Territorial Army recruits only males [gainfully employed]. Due to this institutionalised discrimination, women are being deprived of their right to serve in the Territorial Army,” the petition said. The role of the Territorial Army, in which actor Mohanlal, and cricketers Kapil Dev and M.S. Dhoni are honorary members holding senior ranks, is to “relieve the regular Army from static duties and assist the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities....”

It also helps in maintenance of essential services in situations where life is affected or the security of the country is threatened, the petition said.

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2020 11:27:17 PM |

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