When permanent commission has been given to women officers in the army and air force, how can it be denied to the ones in the navy? This is the question that the Delhi high court has asked of the government.
The court will decide on the issue on February 26, 2013. Unlike the short service commission - which is for 14 years - the permanent commission status draws benefits such as pension, ex-serviceman status, medical facilities and residential benefits.
"If the courts decide in favour of the 12 navy women officers, it will benefit around 500 such personnel across the country," said lawyer Rekha Palli, who appeared for the complainants.
The bench, headed by Justice Gita Mittal, has fixed the matter for final hearing on February 26, 2013. "The ministry says that permanent commission can be granted to women navy officers who join in the future, and not in retrospective effect - which is unfair," said Palli.
At present, women are inducted into the army as officers under the Short Service Commission for a maximum period of 14 years, whereas their male counterparts are eligible to receive permanent commission after five years.
Following an earlier direction by the high court, the government had taken a policy decision in September 2011 to grant permanent commission to women officers who would be recruited to the post of Judge Advocate General and in education departments in the future.
The Delhi high court - in a historic judgment delivered on March 26, 2010 - had said that all women officers should be treated on an equal footing with male officers. However, it denied their plea for being allowed into combative operations.