The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the medical fitness requirement for women to get Permanent Commission in the army is “arbitrary” and “irrational” while hearing a petition over non-implementation of its order. It also stated that women officers must be considered for permanent commission (PC) subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance.
“We allow these petitions with a number of directions. Officers will be considered for permanent commission subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance,” the bench headed by Justice Dr D Y Chandrahud said.
“This shall continue and they shall avail all benefits,” it further said, disposing off the writ petition.
The Supreme Court ruling comes after a batch of petitions filed by women officers for permanent commission in 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 judgement.
“The evaluation criteria adopted by Army constitutes systemic discrimination of women… The criteria requiring them to match the lowest merit of the male officer and requirement to be in SHAPE-1 criteria disproportionately affects women,” the bench said.
“A career in the army comes with many trials. It becomes more difficult when the society puts responsibility of childcare and domestic work on women,” the bench said. It, however, added that there can be no judicial review of standards adopted by the Army.
In their petition, the women officers claimed that 615 women officers of the Short Service Commission (SSC) were eligible for PC, but only 277 made it to the final list.
The court asked the Army to consider the candidature of these women officers within a month in accordance with the directions issued by the court.
The top court earlier ordered that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Indian Army in service, irrespective of their years of service. It also ordered that after the judgement of Delhi high court, Centre should grant permanent commission to women officers.
Last year, the court ordered the central government to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Army’s non-combat support units on par with their male counterparts.