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SC rules criteria for women in permanent commission in Army ‘irrational’, ‘arbitrary’

The top court said that it created ‘systemic discrimination’ against women officers

women-in-army-pti Representational Image | PTI

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the criteria to consider permanent commission for women officers in the Indian Army is “arbitrary” and “irrational”, creating “systemic discrimination” against them.

A division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah heard the pleas filed by women officers challenging the rejection of their applications seeking permanent commission in the Army. 

The officers contended that the Army denied them permanent commission by applying an arbitrary threshold for medical fitness and by not considering their credentials beyond the 5th or 10th year of services.

In a 137-page judgment, the apex court ruled that the “structures of our society have been created by males for males”, and that it indicates an “insidious patriarchal system”. It directed the Army to reconsider the pleas of almost 650 women officers within a month in accordance with its order.

“We must recognize here, that the structures of our society have been created by males for males. Therefore, certain structures which may appear to be facially harmless are an indication of insidious patriarchal system. A facially equal application of laws to unequal parties is farce, when law is structures to cater to male standpoint,” the court observed.

The top court further said that the Army’s decision to not consider the qualifications of women Short Service Commission officers beyond their 5th or 10th year of services resulted in the exclusion of “some of the finest women officers” who have served the nation.

“Some of the nest women officers who have served the Indian army have been excluded on the specious ground that these have been achieved after 5/10 years on the ground that the benchmark of lowers credentials of male counterparts were not met.

“It is not enough to proudly state that women officers are allowed to serve the Indian Army, when the true picture is different. Superficial face of Equality does not stand true to the principles enshrined in the Constitution,” the court said.

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