Supreme Court slams govt over permanent army roles for women

The Supreme Court on Friday slammed the Centre for harassing short service commission (SSC) women army officers and opposing their plea for a permanent commission (PC).

A bench led by Justice NV Ramana found it strange that the government, which gave wide publicity to women fighter pilots recently commissioned in the Air Force, does not want to extend permanent commission to the serving women officers. It gave one week to the government to spell out its policy, refusing three months’ time sought by the government counsel.

“Why are you harassing these women officers? This is discrimination,” the court told the lawyer appearing for Union ministry of defence. The SC is seized of the Centre’s appeal against a Delhi high court judgement of 2010, which allowed women joining the army under SSC to opt for permanent commission. Before the HC judgement, women officers retired after 14 years and had no scope of extension while their male counterparts were eligible to receive it after five years.

The Centre’s appeal against the high court’s judgement is pending before the SC since 2010. While the SC did not stay the HC order, it had said the relief extending from the 2010 verdict would only be available to those women officers who were in service at that time, leaving out the ones who had already retired.

On Friday, Justice Ramana’s bench was hearing an application by officers not in service when the 2010 verdict had come.

“You advertise… women in combat roles, fighter pilots and sea vessels and you are here opposing permanent commission of women officers,” he said.