SC rules in favour of permanent commission for women officers in Navy

  • SC directs the Centre to grant permanent commission to SSC women officers within three months
  • The SC judgement grants pension benefits to retired women officers who were not granted permanent commission

Japnam Bindra
Updated17 Mar 2020, 11:14 PM IST
A women naval SSC officer retires in 10 years, whereas one with a permanent commission is entitled to serve for four more years, making it a total of 14 years.
A women naval SSC officer retires in 10 years, whereas one with a permanent commission is entitled to serve for four more years, making it a total of 14 years.(HT)

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ruled in favour of permanent commission to female officers in the Indian Navy and asked the government to treat men and women equally in the armed forces.

The apex court bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud scrapped the statutory bar on giving permanent commission to women and said that the government cannot discriminate against women. “They (women) can sail with same efficiency as male officers,” said the bench also comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi. The division bench also rejected the Centre’s stand that sea sailing duties cannot be granted to Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers in the Navy because its Russian vessels do not have washrooms for them.

“A hundred and one excuses are no answer to the constitutional entitlement to dignity, which attaches to every individual irrespective of gender, to fair and equal conditions of work and to a level-playing field. A level-playing field ensures that women have the opportunity to overcome their histories of discrimination with the surest of responses based on their competence, ability and performance,” the bench said.

The 64-page judgment also quashed the prospective effect of the policy barring women officers inducted before 2008 from being granted permanent commission in the Navy. It also granted pension benefits to retired women officers who were not granted permanent commission.

There is enough documentary evidence to suggest women officers in the Navy have brought accolades to the force, the judgement said.

The top court directed the Centre to grant permanent commission to SSC women officers within three months.

A women naval SSC officer retires in 10 years, whereas one with a permanent commission is entitled to serve for four more years, making it a total of 14 years.

The Supreme Court had exactly a month ago on 17 February upheld a 2010 Delhi high court ruling and had directed the Centre to ensure that women officers are given permanent commissions in the Indian Army on a par with male officers, including for command posting. The division bench, which was also headed by Justice Chandrachud and also included Justice Rastogi, condemned the central government for waiting for nine years before issuing a notification granting women officers permanent commissions, that too in limited streams.

“To cast aspersions on the ability of women and their role and achievements in the army is an insult not only to women, but also to the Indian Army,” the apex court had said.

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First Published:17 Mar 2020, 11:14 PM IST
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