The Supreme Court directed the Centre to grant permanent commission to all women officers in the Army within three months.

Denying women officers permanent posting in Army illegal SC in landmark judgement
news Court Monday, February 17, 2020 - 12:34

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Monday held that there cannot be a blanket ban on women officers of the Indian armed forces when it comes to command postings. The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Union government challenging a 2010 ruling by the Delhi High Court that granted a permanent commission to women officers in the Army. 

The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to grant permanent commission to all women officers in the Army within three months.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi, dismissed the Centre’s appeal and slammed the arguments made by the Centre, which cited “physiological features and domestic obligations of women” to deny them command postings. The court said that the physiological features of women have nothing to do with their rights. 

“To deny the grant of permanent commission based on these stereotypes represents deeply entrenched biases,” Justice Chandrachud said, reading out the order. “It is an insult to women as well as the Army when aspersions are cast on women, their ability and their achievements in the Army,” he added. 

The court added that absolute exclusion of women from command appointments is against Article 14 of the Constitution and is thus illegal and unjustified.

According to LiveLaw, the Union government cited physical limitations, the reluctance of male troops predominantly from rural backgrounds to accept women in command, domestic obligations due to social roles of women etc., as reasons for denial of command appointments to women.

The court criticised the Centre’s arguments, calling them disturbing and against the concept of equality. The bench added that it is a “flawed notion” that men are physically stronger and women are weak and submissive. 

“To cast aspersions on women based on gender is, in fact, an affront to the entire Army where men and women serve as equal soldiers,” the Supreme Court said.

The bench said women officers in the past have brought laurels to the country and change of mindset is required on the part of the government to put an end to gender bias in armed forces.

The top court said despite there being no stay on the 2010 Delhi High Court verdict allowing the grant of permanent commission to women officers, the Centre showed scant regard in implementing the directive in the past decade.

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