Court serves contempt notice to Indian Army

Court serves contempt notice to Indian Army

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday issued contempt notice to the army chief after the force failed to comply with its previous order directing grant of permanent commission to serving women officers, who were selected on short service commission basis.

Justice G.S. Sistani also sought response from the secretary, defence ministry, by 18 August on a petition filed by Lieutenant Colonel Sangita Sardana and other serving women officers of the Indian Army alleging that the force failed to grant permanent commission to them.

The court had in May also stayed army’s decision to release the next batch of women officers.

Appearing before the court, counsel for officers Rekha Palli argued that contempt of court proceedings be initiated against the respondent (army) for “willful disobedience" of the judgement.

She further contended “the Indian Air force has complied with the High Court directions and implemented the same last month whereas, the Army failed to make its stand clear and has taken a decision to release some officers belonging to the next batch despite court’s order staying the same".

The high court had on 12 March directed the government to allow grant of permanent commission to women officers serving in the defence services on the petitions filed by more than 60 serving and retired lady officers.

“There were also male officers performing the same task. If the male officers can be granted permanent commission while performing those tasks, there is no reason why equally capable women officers cannot be granted permanent commission. It is not a charity being sought by the women officers but enforcement of their own Constitutional rights," the court had said.

It had also turned down the plea of the government that permanent commission can be allowed only for future recruitment and the benefit cannot be given retrospectively for the serving and retired lady officers who had approached the court.

“These women officers have served the Armed Forces of the country well in the areas of operation they were recruited for and have worked in this capacity for 14 to 15 years. They deserve better from the respondents (government)," the court had said.