Leaders, Army not on same page on women permanent commission, says Supreme Court


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said there was a chasm between the thinking of top political leaders and the Army bureaucracy when it came to grant of permanent commission (PC) to women Short Service Commission (SSC) officers while directing the force not to disqualify women officers on medical grounds.
Dealing with petitions filed by two women officers claiming they were being disqualified on medical grounds from grant of permanent commission, the women majority bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee said the Army could not be oblivious to women officers having served the country with distinction and that it would be a travesty of justice to seek the fitness levels of a 30-year-old gentleman officer from a 50-year-old woman officer for grant of permanent commission.
“There is a difference of thinking in the level of top leaders and the thinking in the Army bureaucracy. We have to bridge the chasm,” the bench said and asked additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain to talk to “Army brass” to come out with a solution to avoid “the court ramming it down the throat”.
The Centre had granted PC to women SSC officers in 10 branches of the Army in February last year. The SC in February this year upheld the Delhi HC’s 2010 decision to grant PC to women officers in Army and slammed the stereotyping of their roles. It had also said that women would be eligible for command posts. However, there was no PC for women in combat divisions of the Army.
Jain assured the court that those denied permanent commission because of medical reasons would continue to be in service and will get pension. The bench said that women officers’ medical status has to be counted as it existed in 2010 when the high court directed grant of permanent commission.


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