Retd IAF officers seek justice

Women personnel retired forcibly in 2008 after 15 years of service

Fourteen Indian Air force women officers after completing 15 years in service were forced to retire instead of granting permanent commission (PC) which was promised to them at the time of joining.

These officers had applied in 1991 following a newspaper advertisement inviting entries for women officers to join the force. The ad promised a short tenure (short service commission) followed by permanent commission (PC) for women in IAF.

“SSC officers will be entitled to promotion under conditions as applicable to PC officers of non tech ground duties branches,” stated the advertisement.

 One of the clauses in a circular dated 25.11.1991 issued by the defence ministry, stated: “The induction of trainee women officers would be forecast and planned well in time. The women officers would be initially granted SSC for a period of five years. At the end of the SSC tenure, PC would be offered to willing officers, subject to their suitability. However, women officers unwilling for PC, but seeking an extension, would be granted extension for six years.”

Wing commander (retired) Aziz Tayyaba, one of the 14 officers, said, “Male officers who joined during our time in SSC were given a PC later. While the promise of PC was repeated often to us, we were only given periodic extensions of five to six years to keep them in service. The wiser ones found the deal unfair and left after five to 10 years in order to pursue a career elsewhere.”

Tayyaba along with four others from the first batch retired in June 2008 and were simply told that the PC would not be granted. 

‘Breached promise’

“Breaching its promise, IAF started retiring its women officers in 2008 after completion of 15 years of service. Realising that they had been duped, the officers started knocking on the court’s doors,” she added.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Babita Punia, a female officer, in Delhi High Court in 2003 followed by a case filed by some more officers in the same court in 2007.  The court gave verdict in 2010 and ordered IAF to grant PC to women officers who meet the criteria.

m the first and second batches were left out of which 14 moved the apex court last year.

As per Tayyaba, IAF reinstated the officers from 3rd batch onwards, and left out 14 officers of the first two batches.

“It is made clear that those women officers who have not attained the age of retirement available for the permanent commissioned officers shall, however, be reinstated in service and shall be granted all consequential benefits including promotion, etc. except for the pay and allowance for the period they have not been in service,” said the 2010 judgement. 

The IAF in its defence during the 2010 court case gave the reason of a policy change as far as SSC and PC is concerned which was refuted as the recruitment of these officers took place before the ‘policy change’.

Despite several query mails and reminders to the IAF public relations officer (PRO) Gerard Galway, there was no response.

“We have our own procedures, people get enrolled,commissioned. Nobody will be told to go home one day,” said Galway, asking to further send a questionnaire with the background of the case which was also not responded to.

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