NDA exam: SC asks Centre to explain limiting women | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

NDA exam: SC asks Centre to explain limiting women

By, New Delhi
Jan 19, 2022 12:09 AM IST

Reminding the Centre of its assurance to put the requisite infrastructure in place by May 2022, the top court observed that “only 19 seats cannot be for all times to come” and said that it needs to explain the rationale behind fixing this number.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday demanded an explanation from the Union government on restricting the intake of women cadets in the upcoming session of the National Defence Academy (NDA) to 19 -- the same as last year.

Breaking the glass ceiling that endured for 65 years, the top court in August 2021 rejected the government’s argument that the restriction against women from training at the Pune-based NDA was a policy decision while issuing the interim order to let them sit for the exam in November.
Breaking the glass ceiling that endured for 65 years, the top court in August 2021 rejected the government’s argument that the restriction against women from training at the Pune-based NDA was a policy decision while issuing the interim order to let them sit for the exam in November.

Reminding the Centre of its assurance to put the requisite infrastructure in place by May 2022, the top court observed that “only 19 seats cannot be for all times to come” and said that it needs to explain the rationale behind fixing this number.

Unlock exclusive access to the story of India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now!

“The figure is the same as for the 2021 test. Last year, you said that it was due to infrastructure problems. Now, again, for the year 2022, you have proposed to take the same number of women candidates. Why have you fixed this figure? You have to explain this. Only 19 seats cannot be for all times to come. It was only an ad hoc measure last year,” a bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh said.

It asked additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Union government , to submit an explanation on restricting the intake of women candidates to 19, along with other details about the total number of candidates, including women, who appeared in the NDA examination 2021, and for entrance tests for Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) and for Rashtriya Military School (RMS). The NDA exam is conducted twice a year, NDA-I in the first half of the year and NDA-II in the second.

The Centre was put on a notice after senior counsel Chinmoy Pradip Sharma and advocate Mohit Paul complained about a fresh notification issued by the Union Public Services Commission for NDA-I exam in 2022, limiting the intake of women cadets to just 19.

Representing petitioner Kush Kalra, the lawyers rued that this figure seems to be arbitrarily picked up from the last entrance exam, wherein the number of women candidates to be inducted in NDA-II, 2021 was 19: 10 in the army, three in the navy and six in the air force. They cited the Centre’s affidavit in September 2021, promising the court that it would soon have the required infrastructure ready for full intake of women.

Observing that these submissions have “some merit”, the bench asked Bhati: “The last exam was under a little push and nudge from the court and you were saying that there was a little problem to get the infrastructure ready. So, we also said ‘let it be’, as we wanted the induction to start. But you certainly said that by May 2022 you will be fully ready. How have you now fixed the figure at 19 for 2022 based on the examination you conducted in 2021 as an ad hoc measure?”

The ASG, on her part, replied that it is not just the infrastructural facilities in the academy that matter but also the requirement of the armed forces. This was the first time the Union government was talking about the requirement of the forces and the fact did not miss the apex court’s attention.

To this, the bench responded: “We understand that but you told us on the last date that you would be better equipped to deal with it fully by May 2022. But now you have fixed that as the same. That is something you have to explain. The earlier exam was an emergency measure. But now what is your programme? How much will be inducted? We assumed that this had to be done in a phased manner.”

Bhati sought some time to put on record all the requisite details, including the requirement of armed forces as well as the reasons behind the number of intake of women candidates. “We will place the ratio for army, air force and navy. Please give us three weeks to file an affidavit. For RIMC and RMS, this ratio is much higher and we will place that on record too.”

At this, the bench gave Bhati three weeks to file a detailed affidavit with respect to intake of women cadets in NDA, RIMC and RMS, while taking into account the petitioner’s submissions that the intake should be based on certain criteria that can stand for time to come and also factor in the induction of women in different fields as per judicial pronouncements of the Supreme Court relating to permanent commission to women in armed forces.

Breaking the glass ceiling that endured for 65 years, the top court in August 2021 rejected the government’s argument that the restriction against women from training at the Pune-based NDA was a policy decision while issuing the interim order to let them sit for the exam in November.

It had also implored the government to “take a more constructive view of the matter”, prompting the Union government to come back to the court in September 2021 with a policy decision to throw open the doors of the NDA to women cadets as well.

Under the eligibility criteria at that point of time, only male candidates who cleared class 12 level or its equivalent education and were in the age group of 16-and-a-half and 19 were eligible to apply.

Those who clear the NDA exam are called for interview by the Service Selection Board (SSB) and following a medical exam, candidates are recruited in the Indian Army, navy, and air force wings of NDA, and for the INA course for pre-commission training. NDA was commissioned in 1955.

In the exam conducted in November 2021, women candidates comprised 178,000 of 570,000 applications, and 1,002 women cleared the written exam. The UPSC came out with a press note in December 2021, declaring 19 women candidates as successful.

UPSC also issued a notice on December 22, 2021 for NDA-I exam notifying the figures for induction in the armed forces. It mentioned a total of 208 candidates, including 10 women, for the army; 42, including 3 women for the navy; and 120 candidates, including 6 women, for the air force. According to this notice, all 30 seats in the Naval Academy were to be filled up only by male cadets.

The headcount of women in the military has increased almost three-fold over the last six years, with more avenues being opened to them at a steady pace. As of February 2021, 118 women were serving in the armed forces.

The Supreme Court , in February 2020, ruled that SSC women officers were entitled to permanent commission (PC) in the army and navy and that they have to be considered irrespective of their service length. This judgment led to around 5020 women officers being granted PC.

Discover the complete story of India's general elections on our exclusive Elections Product! Access all the content absolutely free on the HT App. Download now!

Get Current Updates on India News, Lok Sabha Election 2024 Live, Election 2024 along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, April 15, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On