New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that women officers in the Indian Navy cannot be denied equal opportunities citing physiological conditions as it called a 2008 policy that restricted permanent commission to only education, law and naval architecture branches as discriminatory.
A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi held that to deny women officers permanent commission would result in a serious miscarriage of justice to SSC (Short Service Commission) women officers who have served the nation and ordered the Navy to comply with the order within three months.
The SC had in February this year, in a similar issue relating to the Indian Army, struck a blow for gender parity holding that SSC women officers in service are entitled to permanent commission.
“Male and women officers must be treated on par and stereotypes must be removed,” the bench said on Tuesday as it held that women can sail with the same efficiency as male officers and there should be no discrimination.
A permanent commission entitles an officer to serve in the Navy till he/she retires unlike short service commission (SSC), which is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years.
The case pertained to appeals filed by the Union government against a September 2015 judgment of Delhi high court (HC) holding that there was no convincing reason to exclude serving women officers from consideration for permanent commission.
The Centre had decided in September 2008 to grant permanent commission to women officers but the same was applicable only prospectively to women SSC officers. The serving women officers were excluded from this entitlement.
The HC had held that exclusion of serving women officers from permanent commission was irrational and arbitrary. The court cited women officers who had retired during the pendency of the case before they could be reinstated.