New Delhi: Army will consider giving permanent commission to serving Women short service commission officers in its Judge Advocate General (JAG) and educational branches, government on Monday told the Supreme Court.
An undertaking in this regard which stated that the exercise will be completed within two months was submitted by solicitor general Gopal Subramanium before a bench comprising Justices JM Panchal and Gyan Sudha Mishra.
The bench recorded the undertaking which said, “The solicitor general on instruction states that women short service commission officers in service shall be considered for permanent commission in JAG and educational branch of Army.”
The court also recorded the undertaking that the case of Major Lina Gurung, a short service commission officer, who is retiring in August will be considered on priority subject to the requirements.
After the solicitor general gave an undertaking, the bench stayed the contempt proceedings till further orders for not complying with the Delhi high court directions to grant permanent commission to women serving in the armed forces.
“In view of the statements made at bar by the solicitor general, the contempt proceeding is stayed till further order,” the bench said.
The bench asked the government to file an additional affidavit elaborating the nature of duty assigned to the officers getting permanent commission after the short service commission.
The court said after receiving the details from the Army, it will further examine the issue of permanent commission for women Army officers.
As soon as the proceedings began, the bench said, “If you can’t give permanent commission, why at all give the short service commission to the women in the Army.”
“Why you give short service commission at all, if you don’t find them eligible for permanent commission. Why then in Air Force, the permanent commission is given,” the bench asked.
Subramanium replied that permanent commission is given in Air Force as the women officers are not asked to be in a combat position.
“In Army, you have to command battle troops in the battlefield,” Subramanium said.
At this point, the bench wanted to know if women officers in SSC lead the troops to the battlefield.
Subramanium said only the male officers who are given permanent commission from SSC go for training for command appointment.
“If a person is not trained for 15 years to lead a troop, how will you give them permanent commission,” he said.
The bench said that can we take it that so far no lady officer had ever been posted at the battlefield.
The SG said that there has not been any such case as the appointment in infantry leads to the battlefield.
While concluding the hearing, the court asked the Army to show from the records that the male officers who are given permanent commission after the SSC are sent for battle training.
The apex court had on 26 July asked the Army to produce before it the government notification which debars women officers from getting permanent commission in the armed forces.
Earlier also the government had said that Army rules permits permanent commissioning for women officers in the wings of JAG and education departments.
The Army had moved the apex court challenging the Delhi high court judgement directing the armed forces to grant permanent commission to women serving in the armed forces.