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Permanent commission to all women officers in Army

Topics Covered: Women related issues.

Permanent commission to all women officers in Army

The Supreme Court has allowed a one-month extension to the government to implement its February 17 judgment to grant permanent commission/command posts to eligible women officers in the armed forces.

What’s the issue?

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court which said the government was creating hurdles in the implementation of the judgment.

However, the government has clarified that it is in the process of implementation of the judgment was at an “advanced state” and a circular would be issued soon.

SC’s February order and its implications:

  1. Women officers are be eligible to tenant all the command appointments, at par with male officers, which would open avenues for further promotions to higher ranks for them.
  2. The court dismissed the government’s stand that only women officers with less than 14 years of service ought to be considered for permanent commission, and those with over 20 years service should be pensioned immediately.
  3. The court has done away with all discrimination on the basis of years of service for grant of PC in 10 streams of combat support arms and services, bringing them on a par with male officers.

Observations made by the Court in its judgment:

It rejected arguments against greater role for women officers, saying these violated equality under law (Article 14).

The biological argument was also rejected as disturbing.

The court had rejected government’s arguments, saying they are based on sex stereotypes premised on assumptions about socially ascribed roles of gender which discriminate against women (Article 16).

It had also said that it only shows the need “to emphasise the need for change in mindsets to bring about true equality in the Army”.

What were the arguments put forth by the government in its defence?

  • Motherhood, childcare, psychological limitations have a bearing on the employment of women officers in the Army.
  • Family separation, career prospects of spouses, education of children, prolonged absence due to pregnancy, motherhood were a greater challenge for women to meet the exigencies of service.

Physical limitations: Soldiers will be asked to work in difficult terrains, isolated posts and adverse climate conditions. Officers have to lead from the front. They should be in prime physical condition to undertake combat tasks. The Govt. said women were not fit to serve in ground combat roles.

Behavioural and Psychological Challenges: Army units were a “unique all-male environment”. The presence of women officers would require “moderated behaviour”. The male troop predominantly comes from a rural background and may not be in a position to accept commands from a female leader.


Prelims Link:

  1. What is SSC?
  2. What is permanent Commission?
  3. Article 14 vs 16.
  4. Overview of SC judgment.
  5. What is WSES?

Mains Link:

Supreme Court’s ruling granting permanent commission to women on a par with men has been hailed as a “great leap” towards equality in the army. Comment.


Sources: the Hindu.