New Delhi Sept 8(ILNS): The Centre informed the Supreme Court that it has taken a decision to allow women to be inducted for permanent commission in the defense forces through the NDA and the Naval Academy.
ASG Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the Centre has informed the bench comprised of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh that three service chiefs and the government have decided to allow women for PC in the armed forces. She has sought some time to place developments on the affidavit. She said the decision will be pathbreaking for generational reform.
The Court expressed its happiness on the decision taken by the Centre. Reforms need time, but there has to be some progress, Court opined. “We are extremely glad to know that Armed Forces themselves taken a decision for induction of Females and other issues,” the Court Noted.
Armed forces are a very respectable force but they need to do more towards gender equality, said the Apex Court.
On August 18, 2021, the Supreme Court had issued interim directions permitting the women candidates to take part in the National Defence Academy (NDA) entrance exam for gaining a commission as officers in defense services.
The Court was hearing the plea filed in Public Interest to raise the issue of violation of Articles 14, 15, 16, and 19 of the Constitution of India, 1950 by denying the opportunity to eligible and willing female candidates to appear for the National Defence Academy & Naval Academy examination and afford them a chance to enroll, train and develop themselves in the National Defence Academy / Naval Academy into future leaders of the Indian Armed Forces thereby categorically excluding eligible and willing female candidates to choose to join the Armed Forces as a profession after completing 10+2 level education and denying them a chance to train at the premier Indian joint training institute and center of excellence for the Armed Forces.
The petition filed by Kush Kalra raised the issue of eligible and willing female candidates being denied the opportunity of entry to the National Defence Academy on the basis of their sex and thereby systematically and categorically excluding eligible female candidates the opportunity to train at the premier joint training institute of the Indian Armed Forces which, at a later point of time, becomes a hurdle in the career advancement opportunities for Female Officers in the Armed Forces and therefore, seeks the interference and suitable directions from this Court with regard to this issue.
The plea stated that There is no rational basis for such discrimination as this discrimination by the respondents does not stand the test of a “reasonable basis for treating equals differently”.
The ASG had submitted that by an interim measure a policy decision should not interfere. The Court had recorded her submission that “the three modes of recruitment of officers in the Indian Army are through the National Defence Academy (NDA) Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Officers Training Academy (OTA). NDA and IMA are modes of direct entry through UPSC. Whereas through OTA, women are commissioned along with men, both through UPSC and Non-UPSC mode of entry. They are granted Short Service Commission, both men, and women, and subsequently are considered for grant of Permanent Commission.”
ASG had submitted that through various developments SCC women officers in ten streams are appointed subject to certain conditions laid down in the judgment of this Court in Secretary, Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya [2020 (7) SCC 469].
“Be that as it may, we put to learned ASG whether in the ten streams is their recruitment of male officers from the NDA route. In this behalf learned counsel submits that she would have to obtain requisite instructions and file a better affidavit,” directed the Court.
Further, the Court said, “We would have expected a more considered affidavit on policy decision based on gender equality more specifically keeping in mind the observations of this Court in Babita Puniya’s case.”
The Court had also directed the UPSC to take out the necessary corrigendum in view of the interim orders passed by it and to give it wide publicity so that the intent of the order translated into benefit at the ground level.
The Court was also informed by the petitioner that the Examination which was scheduled to take place on September 5, 2021, now has been postponed and going to be held on November 14, 2021, and further prayed the Court to make necessary changes in its order dated August 18, 2021, wherein it had issued interim directions permitting the women candidates to take part in the said examination subject to further orders of the Court. /ILNS/KR/SNG