Delhi High Court allows equal military tenure for men, women | india | Hindustan Times
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Delhi High Court allows equal military tenure for men, women

One more gender inequity fell when the Delhi High Court on Friday made service conditions the same for men and women in India’s armed forces. For some of them, at least. The order allows women joining the Army and Indian Air Force before 2006 to opt for Permanent Commission, and continue in service as long as their male colleagues, reports HT.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2010 00:54 IST

One more gender inequity fell when the Delhi High Court on Friday made service conditions the same for men and women in India’s armed forces. For some of them, at least.

The order allows women joining the Army and Indian Air Force before 2006 to opt for Permanent Commission, and continue in service as long as their male colleagues.

Under a policy, which changed in 2006, these women were recruited through the Short Service Commission route with tenures from five to 14 years.

At the end of their tenure they could not upgrade to Permanent Commission and remain in service, an option available to their male colleagues.

Now they can.

“It is not a charity being sought by the women officers but enforcement of their constitutional rights,” said a bench of justices S.K. Kaul and M.C. Garg. “On the one hand, the government talks about women empowerment and reservation and, on the other hand, it expresses reservation in giving equal opportunity in the armed forces,” the Bench had said during the hearing.

The court’s reference to the women’s reservation bill is significant. The Rajya Sabha passed it with much drama earlier this week. More than 1,200 lady officers are tipped to benefit from the court’s ruling.

One of them is Wing Commander Anupama Joshi, 41, who will be reinstated now. “I plan to start jogging from tomorrow,” she said, adding, “I need to shed some weight, get back in shape.”

Joshi, who was one of the first women to join the IAF in 1993, added, “I had kept my uniform for emotional reasons. I never imagined I would get to wear it again. It’s been a long fight, a lonely one.”

She retired from the IAF in 2008 after putting in 15 years of service. Joshi is currently the CEO of a rural banking project in Uttarakhand, earning far more than an IAF officer of her seniority.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about what’s right and wrong. I felt I was given a raw deal only because I was born a woman. It was sheer gender disparity and nothing else.”

But the high court will not lead to complete gender equality in the forces. Women are not offered Permanent Commission at all except in the medical wing. They can come in only through the Short Service Commission route and leave the service after 14 years, with no hope of an upgrade to Permanent Commission.

Air Force, for instance, does not offer the upgrade to men either. But they at least have the option of coming in through Permanent Commission. Women don’t. It will take another court to break that barrier.