‘There can’t be 101 excuses’: SC highlights gender inequality in verdict on women officers in Navy
The Supreme Court said there are enough documentary evidence to suggest women officers in Navy brought accolades to the force.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers in the Navy are entitled to permanent commission.
The bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi told the Centre that it cannot discriminate against serving women officers on the basis of gender, and asked the government to grant permanent commission to serving women officers within three months.
“There are enough documentary evidence to suggest women officers in Navy brought accolades to the force,” the bench said, adding that there can’t be 101 excuses for not granting gender equality in armed forces.
The court also granted pension benefits to women officers in Navy who have retired and not granted permanent commission, stressing on need for level-playing field.
A permanent commission entitles an officer to serve in the Navy till he/she retires unlike SSC, which is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years.
The apex court order came on appeals filed by the Union government against a September 2015 judgment of Delhi high court holding that there was no convincing reason to exclude serving women officers from consideration for permanent commission.
The Centre had decided in September 2008 to grant permanent commission to women officers but the same was applicable only prospectively to women SSC officers. The serving women officers were excluded from this entitlement. The HC had held that exclusion of serving women officers from permanent commission was irrational and arbitrary.
The court cited women officers who had retired during the pendency of the case before they could be reinstated.
The Supreme Court had in February this year, in a similar issue relating to the Indian Army, struck a blow for gender parity holding that SSC women officers in service are entitled to permanent commission. Such women officers - the apex court held on February 17 - have to be considered for permanent commission, irrespective of them having exceeded 14 years of service.