The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the Armed Forces are finalising a plan to grant permanent commission to women in an array of areas by creating a special cadre for their induction.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the Defence Ministry said that "All three wings of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) and the Ministry of Defence are actively considering the issue of parity between male and female officers in securing permanent commission in the Armed Forces."
The Centre said it requires six months to formulate modalities and enforce the changes and alterations in the three forces.
(All) three wings are conscious of and sensitive to the grievances of the female officers/ personnel in their fold and the need to provide them with reasonable avenues and ample opportunities to further their career prospects. Parity to women in grant of permanent commission has acquired sharper focus so as to mitigate discriminatory treatmentThe Centre said in its affidavit
The ministry said that the restriction of employability of women in army is inescapable due to the peculiar operational compulsions of the army and, therefore, the classification of streams for making permanent commission available to women officers only in selective streams will be based on the service conditions of the various streams.
The affidavit said that the measures to eradicate the divide between male and female officers in as many streams as possible are being adopted in a gradual process, having regard to the peculiar characteristics and operational constraints of each stream.
It said that the Centre will begin with by allowing women officers to serve for 20 years without any screening after completing the 14-year tenure under the short service commission.
The apex court on 23 April had taken exception to the Centre's failure to come with a clear policy on giving permanent commission to the women serving as short service commission officers in defence services.
The apex court had observed the government cannot adopt a “discriminatory” approach in extending benefits.
Explaining about the prevailing situation in defence services on the issue, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh had told the court that the three forces were examining the options in which permanent commission could be granted to the women officers.
Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, appearing for some of the women officers, had said there was a need to urgently settle the issue which has been dragging since 2010.
The court was hearing a Ministry of Defence plea for staying the March 12, 2010 judgment of the Delhi High Court, which had directed the navy to grant permanent commission to all its women officers on short service commission.
The high court had rejected the government's contention that permanent commission could be allowed only prospectively.
"If male officers can be granted permanent commission, there is no reason why equally capable women officers can't be," the high court had said.
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