Restricted so far to the army's legal and education branches, women officers will soon play crucial roles as permanent commissioned officers in other branches of the force too.
After opposing their demand for years and challenging a Delhi high court order in this regard, the Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court it was considering giving permanent commission to women officers in at least seven branches of the army.
Unfair deal so far
2,200 Total number of women officers (1,200 in army, 750 in IAF and 250 in navy)
Women are inducted as short service commission (SSC) officers in army and retire after 14 years of service, whereas their male counterparts are absorbed as permanent commission (PC) officers after 5 years
60 women officers from army, IAF moved Delhi HC
In March 2010, HC told govt to grant PC to all SSC women officers who joined in 2006
In July, govt challenged ruling vis-à-vis army women but extended benefit to IAF
In August, govt told SC it had decided to extend PC in legal and education core
The services likely to be offered to them are military police, army aviation, military intelligence, DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), DGQA (Director General for Quality Assurance), postal wing and physical training, Hindustan Times has learnt.
Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, representing 60 women officers who had moved the Delhi high court alleging discrimination, said they might also be offered combat zone postings.
"Even today, SSC women officers are posted in combat zones and they outnumber their male counterparts in permanent commission," she said.
Currently, women officers can serve a maximum 14 years in the army as short service commission (SSC) officers after they pass out of the Chennai-based Officers Training Academy.
But in March 2010, the high court ordered grant of permanent commission to women officers in the army.
The women officers then won the first round in their legal battle when the army agreed in August to accord permanent commission to 12 women officers in its legal and education branches.
Till then, women officers in only the medical and dental branches of the Army Medical Corps got permanent commission.
Additional solicitor general Parag Tripathi told the apex court the government has constituted a high powered three-member committee to examine the options/services that can be thrown open to SSC women officers.
The court has given the government eight weeks to take a final decision on the issue.
The air force has already accorded permanent commission to a few women officers after the HC order.