The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought the Centre's response on a plea by eight women who have applied for Territorial Army, alleging that despite opening up selection to women in 2019 the authorities have not published the final result till date and have selected the candidates. A bench of Justices Manmohan and Navin Chawla issued notices and asked the Centre, Chief of the Army Staff, Additional Director General of Recruiting and Territorial Army to respond to the petition and listed the matter for further hearing on December 15.
The petition was filed against the alleged unjust, unreasonable arbitrary and discriminatory act of the authorities of selecting candidates for grant of commission as Territorial Army Officers (Non-Departmental) in Preliminary Interview Board for Territorial Army Commission- 2019 (TA-2019) without publication of the final result in a mechanical manner. The plea filed by eight women applicants said the authorities have proceeded illegally to issue joining instructions without application of mind and admitted some of the candidates ignoring the fact that neither the final result was published officially nor they were informed about it.
The petitioners, represented through senior advocate Sanjoy Ghose, sought direction to the authorities to consider their representations for publishing the result. The petition, filed through advocate Kartik Yadav, said the authorities have replied to the petitioners with information that was creating further ambiguity and anxiety that there are limited vacancies for the female candidates and merit is prepared based on the availability of vacancy.
It said, however, as per the previous conduct and practice, all the medically fit recommended candidates were called to join the services. As per the information gathered, the only woman candidate selected who was issued the orders to join the Territorial Army through TA-2019 was admitted to the Railways Engineers Unit being the Departmental Unit of Territorial Army whereas the notification was only for the Territorial Army Officers (Non-Departmental), it added.
It referred to the Delhi High Court's 2018 judgment which had paved the way for women to become part of the Territorial Army, ruling that any provision in the Territorial Army Act that stops their recruitment was ultra vires and it was declared that any person' mentioned in section 6 of the Territorial Army Act, 1948 included both males as well as females. The Territorial Army is India's second line of defence after the Army. It is part of the Army and is expected to step in and assist the force during natural disasters and in civil administration.
Prima-facie, taking the facts and circumstances into consideration, it seems to be a case of conspiracy and gender biased selection wherein the female candidates have been restricted intentionally to disrespect and discourage the female candidates to join the services, the petition said.