Centre’s view on women officers in Army disturbing: Permanent service commission to apply says SC
New Delhi, Feb 17: The Supreme Court said that the permanent service commission will apply to all women officers in the Army. This would be irrespective of their years of service, the court said while upholding the Delhi high court judgement of 2012.
The court said that the centre's submission that women are physiologically weak are based on a deeply entrenched stereotype that men are dominant and women are basically caretakers. The submission that taking care of family is a woman's job is deeply disturbing, the court also said.
The Bench also said that the Centre by not granting permanent commission to women officers has prejudiced the case.
It may be recalled that the court had been told that women may not be suitable for command posts in the Army. This is because the male troops are not yet prepared to accept women, the Centre had told the Supreme Court.
Further, the dangers of women being taken prisoner of war was cited by the Centre. The composition of rank and file being made, and predominantly drawn from rural background, with prevailing societal norms, the troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command, the government said.
Further, male and female officers cannot be treated on par in the matter of postings because of their different physical standards and exposures, and reservations over exposing women officers to combat situations.
Opposing the plea, the lawyers representing the women officers told the court that many of them displayed exceptional bravery in adverse situations. They said that it was Minty Agarwal as the flight controller who had guided Wing Commander Abhinandan when he shot down a Pakistani F-16. She was awarded the Yudh Seva Medal for this, the lawyers also contended.
The Centre said that it is agreeable to the permanent commission to women officers who have served up to 14 years in the Army, but not above that. Those above 14 years of service will be permitted to serve till 20 years without PC and those past 20 years of services would be released with pensionary benefits.
The Centre also said that the armed forces require sacrifices and commitment beyond the call of duty by the entire family of service personnel involving separation and frequent transfers, affecting the education of children and career prospects of the spouse. It is a challenge for women to meet these hazards of service owing to prolonged absence during pregnancy, motherhood and domestic obligations towards their children and families especially when both husband and wife happen to be service officers the centre also contended in the Supreme Court.