She was the first woman officer in 2006 to wage a battle against the Indian Army for discriminating against women working in short service commission (SSC) by denying them permanent commission (PC).
After more than five years, Leena Gurav's legal fight ended on Monday after the Supreme Court said the officer — first permanent commissioned woman officer to become a Lieutenant Colonel in the army's Judge Adjutant General (JAG) — need not take the exam that is mandatory for SSC officers opting for PC.
The exam is generally taken within three years of an SSC officer joining the army. But Gurav, 40, got the exemption as she has served the army for 16 years now.
A bench of justice RM Lodha and justice HL Gokhale decried the army for playing the game of pick and choose, hinting that Gurav was denied the commission due to the litigation."If an officer has put five to seven years of service and has attributes to get the permanent commission, you want that he or she must clear the departmental examination. This is something very strange," the bench observed, adding that the army was creating "artificial hurdles" for women officers.
"Why are you not encouraging the lady officers in army. What's the problem? We see them reaching to the top everywhere... But, you are creating hurdles," the bench said while dismissing the government's appeal against the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) order favouring Gurav.
Her counsel Rekha Palli said: "It has been a cakewalk for other women officers who benefited through the litigation … However, she had to cross all hurdles before getting justice."
While Gurav didn't comment on the SC order, her husband Yogesh Pawarkar, a lawyer said: “She faced difficult times due to her litigation against the army. But, courts have declared she was right and has fulfilled her dream to serve the force.”