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Supreme Court rules in favour of permanent commission to women officers in Army

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favour of permanent commission to women officers in Army and criticised the Centre for not following Delhi High Court's 2010 order. It said the submissions of Centre against the Delhi HC order were based on "sex stereotypes".

The Supreme Court, on Monday, declared that the Union government’s policy decision of 2019 to grant Permanent Commission to women Army Officers would apply on all female officers, irrespective of the period of service.

It would be applicable on all those within the period of 14 years of service and beyond, in 10 streams of Indian Army.

The top court also ordered that women officers can now be considered for command position in Indian Army, brushing aside the reservations expressed by the Union government.

Indian Army’s Lt. Colonel Seema Singh told ANI, “This is a progressive and historical judgement. Women should be given equal opportunities.”

Noting that the recruitment of women in armed forces was an evolutionary process, the top court said that denying them an opportunity on the grounds of social norms and physiological features was disturbing.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said the officers would be entitled to permanent commission on same terms as their male counterparts, saying women officers are not adjunct to male officers.

“We see no justification to deny them permanent commission for having crossed 14 years in short service commission or those who are within the period of 14 years and beyond,” the bench said.

The Union government’s 2019 policy was to be applied prospectively. “The policy decision to grant Permanent Commission is recognition of right to equality and no discrimination on ground of sex,” the bench said.

“We are of the opinion that the discrimination on the basis of physiological features have no signifance. Change in mindset that women were weak and physically submissive was required in the matter,” Justice Chandrachud said, reading out excerpts of the judgement. The top court said the Union government was duty bound to implement the March 12, 2010 judgement of the Delhi High Court for permanent commission to women Army Officers, particularly when the top court did not stay it, the court said. “To deny permanent commission to women officers in Army on the basis of domestic obligations like motherhood, child care, etc. showed deeply entrenched prejudices and bias,” the bench said.

“Women in Army have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with men counterparts in short service commission. Women officers have brought equal laurels. Women officers’ track record have been beyond reproach,” the bench added.

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