Women should be allowed to appear in National Defence Academy (NDA) exams this year, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday, rejecting the government’s request to defer the move until next year.
The government had suggested that the first women candidates for NDA should take the exams in May next year.
The Court turned down a prayer made by the Ministry of Defence to exempt the NDA from the induction of women from the present entrance. The Ministry said that certain infrastructural and curriculum changes are required to allow the induction of women, and hence it sought time till May 2022 to allow the women to participate in NDA entrance.
However, a bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed that the admission of women cannot be postponed. The bench took note of the submissions made by Senior Advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma on behalf of the petitioner Kush Kalra that two exams are held by the NDA during a year for the admissions to the next year. So, allowing women to take only the 2022 exams will mean that their admissions to the NDA will take place only in 2023.
The bench said that it cannot postpone the absorption of women by one year. The bench observed that the armed forces are well-trained to deal with emergencies, and hence they will be able to come up with a faster solution to facilitate the entry of women soon.
“It would be difficult for us to accept the submissions of the Centre in view of the aspirations of the candidates willing to take the exam. Armed Forces has seen far emergent situations both at the border and in the country. We are sure such training will come handy here. We will thus not vacate the order passed by us. We will keep the plea pending here so that directions can be sought as situations arise," ordered the top court.
The petition has been kept pending and will now be heard in January 2022 for further directions if needed.
The Court further stated that instead of allowing women to write the exams next year, the Centre should try to work out something for the women candidates.
“What answer would we have for the students who are on the anvil of taking the exam? Don’t ask us to effectively vacate the order. You go on with the exercise. Let us see the result and see how many women get in," said the top court.
In the order dictated by the bench today, it termed the stand of the Ministry as “No jam
today, jam tomorrow", which was unacceptable.
“…we have given a thought to the matter, and the difficulties expressed by the armed services. What effectively would mean by the submission of armed forces is “No Jam today Jam tomorrow".
“It will be difficult for us to accept that position, the aspirations of women having been arisen in view of the order, albeit subject to the final outcome of the petition. The armed forces having dealt with very difficult situations admirably, both in the border and in the country, to deal with emergencies is part of their training. We are sure they can deal with this “emergency" if it is so perceived… we would thus not like to the effectively vacate the order passed, but keep the manner pending", the bench noted in its order.