Supreme Court tells army to reinstate 12 women officers

The court declared them eligible for permanent commission (PC) and directed the army to deem them to be in continuous service without break in order to protect their financial and other service benefits.
The SC judgment of March 25 laid common benchmarks for grant of PC to WSSCOs vis-à-vis their male counterparts.
The SC judgment of March 25 laid common benchmarks for grant of PC to WSSCOs vis-à-vis their male counterparts.
Published on Dec 07, 2021 06:40 AM IST
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ByAbraham Thomas, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Indian Army to reinstate 12 women short service commission officers (WSSCO) who were released from service after being found unfit for permanent commission.

The court declared them eligible for permanent commission (PC) and directed the army to deem them to be in continuous service without break in order to protect their financial and other service benefits. In addition, three WSSCOs, who were yet to be released, were also held eligible for PC by the court.

By this decision, out of the 615 women officers considered for PC under a March 25 judgment of the top court, the WSSCOs who opted for PC and have either received or are entitled to receive it has gone up to 502.

A bench of justices Dhananajya Y Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, while dealing with the petition filed by the WSSCOs said, “Those WSSCOs released during the pendency of these proceedings shall be deemed to have continued without any break and will be entitled to grant of PC.” The decision of the court was made easy by the army and the Centre which, nudge by the court, agreed to reconsider objections with regard to 12 WSSCOs released from army and three who were still serving.

The court also added that with this order, all proceedings initiated by the women officers before armed forces tribunal (AFT) are complete. 

Appreciating the army for its fair stand, the bench said, “There has been a complete change of mindset at the top as we are now seeing women being provided leadership roles. We are heralding a new era in the armed forces.”

Senior advocate V Mohana appearing for some of the women officers said, “The order of the court will go a long way in boosting the morale of the women officers. After being denied PC, the humiliation they had to undergo was enormous.” Supporting her, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi said, “There has been a paradigm shift in the role of women in the armed forces. This year will be remembered for this change.”

The court also recognized the efforts put in by additional solicitor general (ASG) Sanjay Jain appearing for Centre and senior advocate R Balasubramanian, appearing for the army, who deliberated with the top brass of the army and ministry of defence and informed Court that the decision to reinstate the WSSCOs had the concurrence of the chief of army staff (COAS).

The SC judgment of March 25 laid common benchmarks for grant of PC to WSSCOs vis-à-vis their male counterparts. The Court said that any WSSCO who qualified with 60% marks on merit and is medically fit, will be granted PC, subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022