Army's evaluation criteria arbitrary, says SC ordering permanent commission to women officers
The court was hearing a petition filed by women officers in the Indian Army who approached the apex court after being rejected for permanent commission.
The Supreme Court on Thursday said that women officers must be considered for permanent commission (PC) subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance. The court passed the order while hearing a plea from women Army officers who were rejected for permanent commission.
"We allow these petitions with a number of directions. Officers will be considered for permanent commission subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance," the bench headed by Justice Dr D Y Chandrachud said.
"This shall continue and they shall avail all benefits," it further said, disposing off the writ petition.
The court also made strong observations about the Army's evaluation criteria to grant permanent commission to officers, calling it "arbitrary and irrational".
"The evaluation criteria adopted by Army constitutes systemic discrimination of women... The criteria requiring them to match the lowest merit of the male officer and requirement to be in SHAPE-1 criteria disproportionately affects women," the bench said.
"A career in the army comes with many trials. It becomes more difficult when the society puts responsibility of childcare and domestic work on women," the bench said. It, however, added that there can be no judicial review of standards adopted by the Army.
In their petition, the women officers claimed that 615 women officers of the Short Service Commission (SSC) were eligible for PC, but only 277 made it to the final list.
The court asked the Army to consider the candidature of these women officers within a month in accordance with the directions issued by the court.
The top court earlier ordered that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Indian Army in service, irrespective of their years of service. It also ordered that after the judgement of Delhi high court, Centre should grant permanent commission to women officers.
Last year, the court ordered the central government to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Army's non-combat support units on par with their male counterparts.