The Centre is mulling over granting permanent commission (PC) to short service commission (SSC) women army officers. The government conveyed this to Supreme Court on Monday. This move could bring an end to an eight-year old battle in the apex court. The Indian Air Force and The Indian Navy have already granted permanent commission to women officers. The court questions the centre for not granting permanent commission to women army officers. The apex court also directed the government to file an affidavit with concrete policy on the PCs within two weeks.
Additional solicitor general (ASG) Maninder Singh told a bench led by Justice NV Ramana that Union Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, held meetings with the three chiefs of armed forces last week and the government was in favour of granting PCs to women officers in the army. The ASG said, “Deliberations happened with all earnest. They are considering expanding PC, wherever it is possible. Modalities, however, need to be worked out and a decision needs to be taken as to in which areas it (PC) can be given,” Singh further added that the women officers who left the job before 2008 would not b taken back and no PC would be given to women officers in the combat division because no SSC is offered in this stream, report Hindustan Times.
The government had taken a u-turn from its earlier stance, where it appealed in the apex court challenging the Delhi High Court’s order to give women army officers on SSC a permanent commission in March 2010. Before the HC judgment, women officers even after serving for 14 years had no scope of getting permanent commission whereas male officers get PC only after five years of service.
The government was pulled by Justice Ramana’s bench on April 13 for harassing SSC women officers for opposing their plea for PC. Even on Monday, the apex court described the Centre’s stand as “wishy-washy.” According to the report published in Hindustan Times, the judge also questioned the hesitation on Centre’s part to give PC to women in combat roles. In 2015, then defence minister Manohar Parrikar told Parliament that the armed forces had given PC to 340 women officers.