|Army Women Permanent Commission / Representational Image|
New Delhi: The medical fitness requirement for women to get Permanent Commission in the army is "arbitrary" and "irrational", the Supreme Court said today while pronouncing verdict on petitions filed by around 80 women officers for permanent commission in the army.
"We must recognise here that the structure of our society has been created by males, for males," the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court held that the army's selective Annual Confidential Report (ACR) evaluation and late implementation of the medical fitness criterion discriminate against women officers. "The pattern of evaluation causes economic and psychological harm to SSC ( (short service commission) women officers," a two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said.
The officers wanted contempt proceedings to be initiated against those who had allegedly did not comply with the court's earlier judgment.
"Several of the women officers before the court had won several awards. Several had done well on overseas assignments," Justice Chandrachud said."We find that those who excelled in sports events were ignored, a detailed list of achievements by women has been given in the judgment... It looks like the Board was sitting for rejection rather than selection."
In a watershed moment for the Indian military, the Supreme Court in February 2020 allowed women officers in the Army to be eligible for command positions on par with male officers, asserting that the government's arguments against it were "discriminatory", "disturbing," and based on stereotype. The court also said Permanent Commission would be available to all women, regardless of their years of service.
The Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy have already granted Permanent Commission to women officers even as both have opened up some combat roles for women. The IAF allows women as officers in flying and ground duties.
Women IAF Short Service Commission officers fly the helicopter, transport aircraft and now even fighter jets. In the navy, women officers inducted through SSC are allowed in logistics, law, observers, air traffic control, maritime reconnaissance pilots and Naval Armament Inspectorate Cadre.