SC Order on Permanent Commission to Women ‘Enabling’: Army Chief
“Army has been championing gender equality,” MM Naravane said.
Army chief General MM Naravane on Thursday, 20 February, termed the Supreme Court judgment on permanent commissioning of women “very enabling”.
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court Monday directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission and command postings, rejecting the Centre's stand of their physiological limitations as being based on "sex stereotypes" and “gender discrimination against women”.
“Army has been championing gender equality. The Supreme Court judgment will give us a lot of clarity in moving forward. Our first task at hand is to comply with the SC order, we have made a roadmap to implement it,” the Army chief was quoted as saying by PTI.
“Indian Army does not discriminate any soldier based on religion, caste, creed, or even gender. The outlook of the Indian Army has been throughout like this and that is why we started inducting women officers as early as in 1993,” Naravane told reporters.
Indian Army has taken the initiative to induct women in rank and file, and the first batch of 100 women soldiers is undergoing training at Corps of Military Police Centre and School, he said.
"The Supreme Court's decision is a welcome one as it brings out a sense of clarity and purpose to gainfully employ officers for better efficiency of the organisation. I must assure that everybody in the Indian Army including women officers will be given equal opportunity to contribute to the nation as also progress in their careers," he said hailing the verdict as enabling.
Letters are being sent to women officers asking whether they will prefer permanent commissioning, the Army chief said.
The apex court directed that within three months, all serving SSC women officers have to be considered for Permanent Commissions (PCs) irrespective them having crossed 14 years or, as the case may be, 20 years of service.
It said, however, that the question of combat posting of women officers is a policy decision and was not dealt with by the Delhi High Court in its 2010 verdict.
The top court accepted the Centre's policy of 25 February 2019 to grant PCs to Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers in all the 10 streams in the Indian Army.
Despite this policy, the Centre's stand in a matter before the top court was that provisions of Army Act contemplate that women will be eligible for enrolment only in those segments which the government permits.
The court said, however, that women officers have got numerous commendation certificates and laurels and their track record of service to the nation is beyond reproach.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi rejected the Centre's submission that women officers cannot be granted PCs due to physiological limitations, all-male environment in a unit, combat capability and said that mindset change is required to recognize the values of the Constitution.
"To cast aspersion 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 bench said.
"The submissions advanced in the note tendered to this Court are based on sex stereotypes premised on assumptions about socially ascribed roles of gender which discriminate against women," it said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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