Women cannot be appointed as officers in the three border guarding forces -- Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), according to the union home ministry's latest rules.
This is despite the fact that the same recruitment rules provide for recruitment of women officers in the country's largest central paramilitary force under the home ministry - Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) - and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
The three border-guarding forces have made women ineligible to hold officers' post despite the fact that they, along with CRPF and CISF, have recruited women in large numbers in their constabulary and as lower rank officials.
"Both male and female candidates will be eligible for this examination, but female candidates will be considered for appointment to CRPF and CISF only," said the latest recruitment rules, notified by the union home ministry on May 29 for recruitment of assistant commandants in the five CPMFs.
The notification signed by home ministry's Director (Personnel) clarified: "A female candidate, even if her name is there in the list of successful candidates as declared by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), may not be appointed if she does not get allocated to CRPF or CISF on the basis of merit and choice indicated by successful candidates."
The rules were notified for recruitment of assistant commandants, the entry-level officers, in the five CPMFs through a competitive examination to be conducted in October this year.
The three border guarding forces began recruiting constables since last year for active duties along the borders but the all-women battalions and companies are still commanded by male officers.
The forces had opened their doors to women amid huge popular applause last year, when Home Minister P. Chidambaram had commissioned the maiden women batches for ITBP and BSF.
While the BSF, guarding Pakistan and Bangladesh borders, has about 700 women in its ranks, the SSB, which secures the Nepal and Bhutan borders, has a sanctioned strength of 763 women constables. The ITBP, deployed along the Sino-Indian border, recruited about 354 women.
The rules notified for recruitment of assistant commandants also says women found pregnant during the Physical Efficiency Test will be ineligible.
"Pregnancy at the time of PET will be a disqualification and pregnant female candidate will be rejected," said the rules.