In a landmark order, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Chandigarh, on Wednesday allowed the petition of acting Major Jasreen Dhillon who challenged the non-implementation of AV Singh Committee report in case of Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers who joined Army prior to 2006.
With effect from December 16, 2004, AV Singh Committee report was implemented under which an officer is to become Captain in 2 years, Major in 6 years and Lt Col in 13 years.
It was also meant for SSC men and women officers but Army Headquarters refused it on the ground that SSC is not a reckonable commissioned service. It added that women officers would become Captain after five years, as per policy applicable to them at the time of their commissioning.
Then the ministry of defence issued a notification in 2005, "Substantive promotions shall be extended to Short Service Commissioned Officers (Men and Women) as applicable to Permanent Commissioned Officers."
Later, defence minister AK Antony also told the Parliament that all SSC officers including women would be granted promotions at par with permanent commissioned officers.
In the year 2006, the SSC was tweaked to make it more attractive by making the tenure to 10 years extendable by another 4 years, unlike the earlier tenure of 5 years extendable by 5 and then another 4 years.
Major Dhillon and other women officers, who joined before 2006 were given an option to either remain under the old system or shift to 10 + 4 system. Major Dhillon chose to remain under the old system, by which she was denied the benefit of early promotion. Though others who opted for 10+ 4 system became entitled to promotions as per AV Singh report.
She submitted in the court that the action of the Army authorities in denying the benefit of promotions, pay and allowances SSC women officers commissioned prior to 2006 was not only in contravention of the Presidential sanction issued after approval of the cabinet, but was also in contravention of the statutory rules governing the same.
She added that the army authorities were using different yardsticks and interpretation for the same category of officers, ones commissioned prior to, and the others after 2006 and had created a category within the category of women an officer that is constitutionally impermissible.
The bench of justice Rajesh Chandra and air marshal SC Mukul (retd) ordered for giving promotion to Major Dhillon at par with permanent commissioned officers.