NEW DELHI: Women in India’s military service can now serve till their pensionable duration of 20 years in the Army and can compete for prestigious command assignments in the units.Reacting to the SC order, a senior serving army officer said the opening of command positions for women would necessarily kickstart a flurry of activities within the military.
“Till now, women were never granted permanent commission and thus they were never in the race for command positions. However, the military secretary’s branch will have to begin with reorganising cadre management to accommodate women officers and their performance will be evaluated before their postings are finalised,” said the officer.
“The army will examine training institutions and infrastructure, besides the structure of mandatory courses to prepare the women for command positions,” he added.
Another senior officer said a command is a prestigious responsibility and is given on selections basis. “Leadership skills, performance, qualifications and medical fitness are taken into account before a person is selected to command a unit or man positions above it. If they are eligible, the army will soon start posting them in command roles,” he said.
The women officers will have to complete mandatory senior command courses to be eligible for selection. This could include undergoing trainings at Defence Service Staff College and Technical Staff Officers training facilities.
‘Chequered history’ of women in the Army
Under the Army Act of 1950, women were ineligible for employment in the regular army except in such corps, departments or branches which the central government may specify by way of notifications
1992 Women were first inducted into the Indian Army in stipulated branches and cadres for five years
Government issued a notification in January 1992 making women eligible for appointment as officers in five branches:
Army Postal Service
Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) department
Army Education Corps (AEC)
Army Ordinance Corps (Central Ammunition Depots and Material Management)
Army Service Corps (Food Scientists and Catering Officers)
In December 1992, notification was issued allowing women to be employed in five more departments:
Signals, Intelligence, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering and Artillery Regiment
Notification was issued removing the five-year cap on enrolment
Tenure of women officers inducted under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) in 1992, 1993 and 1996 was extended by another five years from 1997 through a notification
Tenure of Short Service Commission male officers, WSES officers extended up to 14 years
Substantive promotions were to be extended to male and female SSC officers as applicable to Permanent Commission officers
A plea was moved in the Delhi High Court for grant of Permanent Commission to women SSC officers in the Army
Defence Ministry issued a circular envisaging grant of PC prospectively to SSC women officers in JAG dept and AEC. This circular was also challenged in the Delhi High Court by some women officers on the ground that it granted PC prospectively and only to specified cadres
Delhi HC directed the govt to offer PC to women officers who were recruited prior to the policy decision to not offer PC to both men and women SSC officers