Trying for Permanent Commission of Women in Army, Govt Tells SC
A bench of Justices NV Ramana & SA Nazeer directed the Ministry of Defence to take a final stand in the issue.
In a move that would bring an end to an eight-year-long battle with the apex court, the Centre said that it is considering granting permanent commission (PC) to short service commission (SSC) women army officers.
This would make the army the last of India’s armed forces to do so.
The Supreme Court had earlier 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.
Asking the government to take a final stand on the issue, a bench of Justices NV Ramana and SA Nazeer directed the Ministry of Defence to file an affidavit in this regard.
During the hearing, the counsel for the Centre told the bench that a meeting of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force was held and it was decided to extend the benefit of permanent commission to some cadres.
The Centre sought six months to come out with a final policy.
The apex court observed the government cannot adopt a "discriminatory" approach in extending benefits and directed the Centre to file an affidavit within two weeks before 8 May, the next date of hearing.
Explaining about the prevailing situation in defence services on the issue, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the court that Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had held meetings with the three chiefs (of Army, Air Force and Navy) last week and that they were examining the options in which permanent commission could be granted to the women officers.
Deliberations happened with all earnest. They are considering expanding PC, wherever it is possible. Modalities, however, need to be worked out and a decision needs to be taken as to in which areas it (PC) can be given.Maninder Singh to Hindustan Times
Along with this, he mentioned that women officers who had left the services before 2008 were not going to be taken back. No permanent commission would be given to women officers in the combat division, as the SSC was not offered in this stream, the Hindustan Times report quoted him as saying.
Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, appearing for some of the women officers, said there was a need to urgently settle the issue which has been dragging since 2010.
(With inputs from PTI and Hindustan Times)
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