Grant permanent commission to women in armed forces: HC

A bench of Justices S K Kaul and M C Garg said, “The Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers of the Air Force who had opted for PC and were not granted PC but granted extension of SSCs and of the Army are entitled to PC at par with male Short Service Commissioned officers with all consequential benefits.’’ 

The implication of the judgement, if confirmed by the Supreme Court, would mean that woman officers would be in two wings of the Armed forces till they attain their retirement age of 60 and might rise to the top echelons.

Quoting Will Henry, American political adviser and columnist, the judgement said, “Nature gave women too much power, the law gives them too little.”

“The claim of women to the right to serve in the Armed Forces has been and is a matter of debate in various countries. The denial of such right is pleaded to be a case of gender discrimination. This is more so as the modernisation of the Armed Forces has resulted in lesser reliance on hand-to-hand combat. The debate in each country is coloured by its own social and cultural norms and ethos. In some of the countries women have now been inducted into combat force while in other countries the induction has been restricted to support services to actual combat,’’ said the 32-page judgement.

In the Short Service Commission, the woman officers were forced to retire after 14 years of service irrespective of their service records and were not eligible for financial benefits.
Women were first allowed into the Army in 1992. In 2005, the army explained its policy of limiting the service for women to 14 years. In an affidavit filed in the High Court, the army said, “The background of our troops who hail from rural areas with fixed concepts of women had to be considered at the time of induction of women as officers into the Army. Grant of Permanent Commission would result in placing women officers as Commanding Officers of units, which was considered inappropriate.”

In September last year, the government did revise the rules to give women the same tenure as men, but this applied only to new recruits and not to women already in service.
The bench also ordered the reinstatement of all the short service commission women officers who had retired (during litigation) and who had approached the court seeking permanent commissions in the forces.

The verdict came on a public suit filed by some 60 women short service commission officers including Major Leena Gaurav, Wing Commander Anupaman Joshi and Sq Leader Rukshna Parv who had sought court direction for making them permanent employees of the Armed Forces.

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