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‘If you don't act, we will’: SC again pulls up Centre on permanent commission to woman in Coast Guard

The Supreme Court instructed the Centre on Monday to consider the issue of granting permanent commission to women Coast Guard officers, stating that 'women cannot be left out' and warning that 'if you do not do it, we will.'
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 14:04 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court instructed the Centre on Monday to consider the issue of granting permanent commission to women Coast Guard officers, stating that "women cannot be left out" and warning that "if you do not do it, we will."

A three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, informed Attorney General R Venkataramani, representing the Centre, that arguments such as functionality do not hold weight in 2024.

“Women cannot be left out. If you do not do it, we will do it. So, take a look at that," the bench remarked.

Attorney General R Venkatramani stated that he would request the Coast Guard to submit its response.

He further mentioned that there are structural differences between the Navy and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

Senior advocate Archana Pathak Dave, representing petitioner Priyanka Tyagi, argued that women officers are being deployed on board ships in the Navy, whereas in the Indian Coast Guard, they are still not being considered.

The court fixed the matter for further hearing on March 1.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Indian Coast Guard officer Priyanka Tyagi, who sought permanent commission for eligible women officers joining the force under short service commission.

On February 19, the apex court reprimanded the Centre for adopting a "patriarchal" stance on the issue of granting permanent commission to women in the Coast Guard. The court had queried the Centre’s counsel as to why the Coast Guard should be treated differently when the Army and Navy had already implemented the policy.

The bench emphasised that if women can safeguard the borders, they are also capable of protecting the coasts. It pointed out that the government often speaks about "Nari Shakti" and it was time for it to demonstrate its commitment to this principle.

"You (the Union) speak of Nari Shakti. Now show it here. I don't think the Coast Guard can say that they can be out of bounds when the Army, Navy have done it (sic),” the bench had then told the Centre’s counsel.

"Why are you so patriarchal that you do not want to see women in the Coast Guard sector? Why do you have an indifferent attitude towards the Coast Guard (sic)," the bench had then asked the Centre.

In its 2020 judgment, the court had directed that women officers in the Army should be granted permanent commission and had dismissed arguments based on "physiological limitations and social norms".

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(Published 26 February 2024, 14:04 IST)

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