SC slams Army for ‘discrimination’

Supreme Court directs Centre to consider granting permanent commission to women army officers, within a month, reports Asian Lite News

The Supreme Court on Thursday said, “the structures of our society has been created by males for males”, and “equality will be farce” if change does not occur and women get equal opportunity.

The apex court was directing the Centre to consider granting permanent commission (PC) to women army officers, within a month and allow PC within two months after following due process.

In February, in a landmark verdict last year, the top court had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission at par with their male counterparts.

Sixty women officers moved the top court stating that they were denied PC in the Army on the ground of failure to adhere to Shape- I fitness.

A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud held that Army’s selective ACR evaluation and late implementation of Shape 1 criterion discriminates and disproportionately affects women officers, who have sought PC.

The top court criticized the Army for indirectly discriminating against women short service commission officers by denying them PC, and cited that women officers who brought laurels for country in different fields have been ignored.

The Army said medical category has been applied by taking age-related factors into account. However, the top court observed that women officers were given symbolic equality and Shape-1 medical criteria cannot be applied to the women officers 10 years later.

“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.

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