SC stays release of 10 women Navy officers

SC stays release of 10 women Navy officers

The top court sought a response from the Centre and the Chief of Naval Staff on two separate petitions

A view of the Supreme Court of India. Credit: Reuters Photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the impending release of 10 women short service commission officers on December 31 from Indian Navy.

Acting on their plea for permanent Commission, a vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Aniruddha Bose granted the interim relief to women officers.

The top court sought a response from the Centre and the Chief of Naval Staff on two separate petitions and fixed the matter for consideration on January 19.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the petitioners Annie Nagaraja, Cdr Vijayeta and others, submitted a petition seeking similar relief for Army officers and it has been listed for consideration on January 19.

She sought a stay on the orders issued on December 18 for release of the officers.

After a brief hearing through video conferencing, the bench ordered, "We will direct that the matter be listed on January 19, 2021, along with pending writ petitions. Meanwhile, there will be a stay on order of December 18."

The court, however, said the interim order would not result in any equity in favour of women officers.

The bench ordered a separate plea filed by Lt Cdr Shibu Devasia and others for listing before a regular bench on reopening of courts on January 4. The court restrained the authorities from discharging the officers on December 31 in this case as well.

The court clarified that this order was without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties and the petitioners would not claim any equity on the basis of the interim direction.

On October 29, the court set a new deadline of December 31, 2020 for the Union government to grant permanent commission to eligible women Navy officers.

In its March 17 verdict, the court allowed permanent commission to serving women officers in Indian Navy, saying that there cannot be gender discrimination with women officers in Navy after statutory bar was lifted by Centre to allow their entry in the force. 

In June, the Centre filed an application in the top court for extension of the deadline by six months in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic.