New Delhi: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India on Monday directed the Centre to provide command positions to women officers in the Indian Army on par with their male counterparts, within three months.
Upholding the 2010 ruling by the Delhi High Court in this regard, the apex court said the Centre is obligated to do so. “Physiological features of women have no link to their rights. The mind-set must change,” the SC said, adding that “to cast aspersions on ability of women and their role and achievements in the Army is an insult not only to women but also to Indian Army.”
The permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Army in service, irrespective of their years of service.
Earlier on February 5, while reserving its order on the matter, the apex court had said that women officers could be allocated command posts in the Army and that there are many other services along with combat operations where women could be accommodated. The Centre had informed the apex court that limits on “physical prowess” and “physiological limitations” are the challenges for women officers to meet the exigencies of service in Army.
However, the apex court said the Centre, by not giving permanent commission to women officers, had prejudiced the case. “The Centre waited for nine years before coming out with a notification in 2019 allowing permanent commission to women in eight streams. The Centre’s policy decision of 2019 recognises that physiological features has no role in allowing permanent commissions to women officers.”
“Despite policy decision, the Centre submitted a note to the Supreme Court which perpetuates sex stereotypes. Arguments by the Centre founded on physical strength of men and women and grounds of motherhood, family etc violates equality,” it observed.
Earlier, the counsel for women petitioners had argued that there is discrimination from the beginning, and women have not received the dues, an issue originating from discrimination.