SC rules for women joining Army, says ‘created by males for males’
New Delhi, Mar 25: The Supreme Court has ruled as arbitrary and irrational the medical fitness requirements for women to get Permanent Commission in the Army. The observations were made while pronouncing the verdict on petitions filed by 80 women officers seeking Permanent Commission in the Army.
"We must recognise here that structure of our society has been created by males for males," the Bench said.
"The pattern of evaluation causes economic and psychological harm to SSC women officers," a Bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and M R Shah said.
"Several of the women officers before the court had won several awards. Several had done well on overseas assignments," the Bench said.
We find that those excelled in sports events were ignored, a detailed list of achievements by women has been given in the judgment.It looks like the Board was sitting for rejection rather than selection, the court also noted.
In February, the SC had directed the Centre to grant permanent commission to all women officers in the Army within three months, terming the Centre's argument of physiological limitations and social norms for denying them command posts "disturbing".
It 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 grant of permanent commission to women officers, the Centre showed scant regard in implementing the directive in past one decade.
It said engagement of women officers in the Army has been an evolutionary process and the Union of India should have acted in accordance with the Delhi High Court judgment when there was no stay on it.
"There is no reason and justification for the union of India not to act as per the Delhi High Court verdict. On September 2, 2011, the Supreme Court has clarified this aspect and said there is no stay on the high court verdict. Despite that scant regard has been paid to the verdict of Delhi High Court and the order of Supreme Court as well," the bench said.
The bench said it is of the opinion that physiological features of women has no effect in granting permanent commission and they have to be given equal opportunity at par with their male counterparts in the armed forces.
The top court said even after 70 years of post-colonial era, there is a need for change in mindset with regard to giving equal opportunity to women officers in the Indian Army.
It said the Centre's submission of physiological limitation is based on flawed notion and there is no constitutional basis to deny them equal opportunity.
It said that women officers have brought laurels to the country and several gallantry, sena medals and UN Peace Keeping awards for their contribution in armed forces and to cast aspersion on them on the basis of physiological features is wrong as based on fallacy.
The bench, however, clarified that deployment of women officers in combat role is a matter of policy as held by the Delhi High Court and the competent authority has to look into it.
The top court said permanent commission can be given to the women officers in the Army irrespective of their tenure of service.