NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that there cannot be gender discrimination in granting permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Navy and gave three months to the Centre for implementing its order. A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi said denying permanent commission to women officers who have served the nation, would result in serious miscarriage of justice.
In February, the top had ruled that Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers in service are entitled to permanent commission in Army. There cannot be gender discrimination in granting permanent commission to women officers in the Navy once the statutory bar was lifted by the Centre to allow entry of women, it said.
A permanent commission entitles an officer to serve in the Navy until retirement, unlike the SSC that is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years. “Performance at work and dedication to the cause of the nation are the surest answers to prevailing gender stereotypes. To deprive serving women officers of the opportunity to work as equals with men on Permanent Commissions in the Indian Navy is plainly discriminatory,” the judgment reads.
The case pertains to appeals filed by the Union government against a September 2015 judgment of Delhi High Court that held there was no convincing reason to exclude serving women officers from consideration for permanent commission. In September 2008, the government had decided to grant permanent commission to women officers but it was applicable only prospectively to women SSC officers. The serving women officers were excluded from this entitlement.
Highlighting the fact as to how there should be no discrimination, the court said, “(there is)enough documentary evidence to suggest women officers in Navy brought accolades to force.”Junking the government’s stand that women officers can’t be granted sea duties, it ruled that “there cannot be 101 excuses for not granting gender equality in armed forces”.