The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that women officers in the army be given permanent commission, adding the government must change its mindset to end gender bias in armed forces.
The top court was hearing the Centre’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s directions passed in 2010 to grant permanent commission to women officers in Indian Army.
A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud rejected the Centre’s argument of physiological limitations and social norms for denying them permanent commission and command postings, saying it is disturbing and against the concept of equality.
The court also directed the Centre grant permanent commission within 3 months to all women army officers who opt for it.
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.
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 grant of permanent commission to women officers, the Centre showed scant regard in implementing the directive in past one decade.