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Mindset must change: Supreme Court clears permanent commission for women officers in Army

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In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court has ordered the Centre to ensure that women officers are given permanent commission (PC) in the Army, while noting that the change of mindset is required on part of the government. The SC added that all terms of appointments of women officers shall be same as their male counterparts.

In its verdict on Centre’s appeal against the Delhi High Court direction, the SC on Monday said the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Army in service, irrespective of their years of service.

Rejecting Centre’s opposition to permanent commission to women officers citing physiological features, the Supreme Court said this mindset must change as it perpetuates “gender stereotypes”.

“It is an insult to women as well as the army when aspersions are cast on women, their ability and their achievements in the Army,” the Supreme Court noted.

The Supreme Court said Centre’s opposition to permanent commission and command appointments to women officers citing physiological features is disturbing and can’t be accepted. “Centre, by not giving permanent commission to women officers, had prejudiced the case,” the SC noted.

While reading out the order on the Centre’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court’s ruling in 2010, Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud said, Soldiers must have the physical capability to do one’s role. Women in the Army is an evolutionary process.”

Last year, women officers were granted permanent commission (PC) in all 10 branches of the Indian Army. The Centre decided to grant permanent commission to women officers inducted in branches such as signals, engineers, army aviation, army air defence, electronics and mechanical engineers, army service corps, army ordinance corps and intelligence.

The Centre had argued that permanent commission will be given to only those women officers who joined the forces after 2014.

The decision of the Defence Ministry had opened opportunities to women officers in the Indian Army to serve for a longer duration and to pursue permanent careers in all branches like their male counterparts.

In April, the Army had also had kicked off the process of inducting women as jawans by starting their online registration for recruitment in the corps of military police.

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