Army Women Commission: The top court held that the army’s selective Annual Confidential Report (ACR) evaluation and late implementation of the medical fitness criterion discriminates against women officers.
Permanent Commission for women Army officers paves way for larger roles.
The medical fitness requirement for women to get Permanent Commission in the army is “arbitrary” and “irrational”, the Supreme Court said today while pronouncing verdict on petitions filed by around 80 women officers for permanent commission in the army.
“We must recognise here that the structure of our society has been created by males, for males,” the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court held that the army’s selective Annual Confidential Report (ACR) evaluation and late implementation of the medical fitness criterion discriminates against women officers. “The pattern of evaluation causes economic and psychological harm to SSC ( (short service commission) women officers,” a a two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said.
The officers wanted contempt proceedings be initiated against those who had allegedly did not comply with the court’s earlier judgment.
“Several of the women officers before the court had won several awards. Several had done well on overseas assignments,” Justice Chandrachud said.
In a 137-page judgment, the apex court ruled that the “structures of our society have been created by males for males”, and that it indicates an “insidious patriarchal system”. It directed the Army to reconsider the pleas of almost 650 women officers within a month in accordance with its order.
“We must recognize here, that the structures of our society have been created by males for males. Therefore, certain structures which may appear to be facially harmless are an indication of insidious patriarchal system. A facially equal application of laws to unequal parties is farce, when law is structures to cater to male standpoint,” the court observed.
“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 top court further said that the Army’s decision to not consider the qualifications of women Short Service Commission officers beyond their 5th or 10th year of services resulted in the exclusion of “some of the finest women officers” who have served the nation.
“Some of the nest women officers who have served the Indian army have been excluded on the specious ground that these have been achieved after 5/10 years on the ground that the benchmark of lowers credentials of male counterparts were not met.
“It is not enough to proudly state that women officers are allowed to serve the Indian Army, when the true picture is different. Superficial face of Equality does not stand true to the principles enshrined in the Constitution,” the court said.
In a watershed moment for the Indian military, the Supreme Court in February 2020 allowed women officers in the Army to be eligible for command positions on par with male officers, asserting that the government’s arguments against it were “discriminatory”, “disturbing,” and based on stereotype. The court also said Permanent Commission would be available to all women, regardless of their years of service.
The Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy have already granted Permanent Commission to women officers even as both have opened up some combat roles for women. The IAF allows women as officers in flying and ground duties. Women IAF Short Service Commission officers fly helicopter, transport aircraft and now even fighter jets.
In the navy, women officers inducted through SSC are allowed in logistics, law, observers, air traffic control, maritime reconnaissance pilots and Naval Armament Inspectorate Cadre.