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Home / News / India /  Army's process of granting women Permanent Commission 'arbitrary', rules SC; orders PC to women officers

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Indian Army and Indian Navy to consider the grant of the permanent commission for eligible women officers, who were excluded on the ground of fitness standards.

A two-judge SC bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah held that the Army's selective Annual Confidential Report (ACR) evaluation and late implementation of the medical fitness criteria discriminate against women officers.

The medical fitness requirement for women to get Permanent Commission in the Army is "arbitrary" and "irrational", the top court said.

"The pattern of evaluation causes economic and psychological harm to SSC ( (short service commission) women officers," the SC said.

"It said even women officers who brought laurels for country in different fields have been ignored for grant of PC," the SC added.

The SC has directed the Army to consider the grant of the permanent commission for women officers within a month and allow PC within two months after following the due process.

The top court's order is expected to benefit more than 150 women officers in the Indian Army.

"The question of evaluating on merit does not arise. Officers will be considered for permanent commission subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance," the top court said.

'Structure of society created by males for males'

"We must recognise here that the structure of our society has been created by males for males," Justice DY Chandrachud said while reading out the verdict.

"These women officers don't come to this court for a charity but implore to give them the right to equality," the SC added.

All women officers who have fulfilled the grade of 60% shall be entitled to grant of permanent commission subject to medical criteria as tweaked by the court, rules the SC.

"A career in the army comes with many trials. It becomes more difficult when the society puts the responsibility of childcare and domestic work on women," the SC further added.

The SC pronounced its verdict today on a batch of petitions filed by women officers for permanent commission in the Indian Army and Navy, seeking a direction that contempt proceedings be initiated against those who had allegedly failed in their duty to comply with SC's earlier judgment.

In its landmark verdict delivered on 17 February, 2020, the SC had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission, rejecting the government's stand of their physiological limitations as being based on "sex stereotypes" and "gender discrimination against women".

It had directed that within three months, all serving SSC women officers have to be considered for permanent commission irrespective of them having crossed 14 years or, as the case may be, 20 years of service.

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