Indian Army’s lone woman gallantary award winner Lt Colonel Mitali Madhumita, who was to be discharged from service on Friday, will continue to stay on in service.
The good news for Madhumita came on Thursday when the Supreme Court restrained the ministry of defence (MoD) from discharging her from service. The court also said that she will continue to serve until it took a decision on giving her permanent commission.
A bench of justices TS Thakur and Kurien Joseph also directed defence authorities to pay her allowances for the past one year – they were not released despite an order from the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT).
“She is such an educated, qualified and courageous officer. The only gallantry award winner, she will be an asset to the Army. And if she wants to work and is ready to go for any posting anywhere, let her work,” the bench told ministry counsel R Balasubramanium, who forcefully opposed the order.
The MoD moved the SC against the AFT order granting permanent commission (PC) to Madhumita. The apex court had on August 3 stayed the AFT order; a week later, the ministry issued an order cutting short her service tenure from December 2015 to October 16, 2015.
Balasubramanium said Madhumita should have applied for permanent commission before the board took up applications of her batchmates. There were no vacancies now and it was not possible to refer her case to the promotion board as it was against the rules. But he admitted that under special circumstances, a short-service commissioned officer could opt for PC despite rejecting it once.
Madhumita had braved “fidayeen” (suicide) attacks at the Indian embassy in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan. She was awarded the Sena Medal in 2012. While exercising her first choice she had declined PC. But on return from Kabul, she opted for it in 2013.
Her advocate Aysweria Bhatti said Madhumita’s case fell under the exceptional category. On court query, Bhatti said that Madhumita was herself present to attend proceedings despite suffering from dengue. She then explained the circumstances under which Madhumita was given the bravery award.