New Delhi: In a respite to more than 100 women Army officers, the central government has withdrawn from the Supreme Court its appeal, which hindered promotions and benefits to Short Service and Women Officers commissioned before 2006.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, permitted the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to take back its case against a favourable order issued by the Armed Forces Tribunal in 2012.
The issue was resolved after a letter was brought on records, recommending withdrawal of the appeal, which would eventually result in benefits to over 100 women officers in the Army.
According to the sources, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had last week had given her go-ahead for withdrawal of the appeal from the top court.
Advocate Aishwarya Bhati, representing several women officers, told CNN-News18 that a contentious interpretation by the Army had prevented short service and women officers from being promoted to the ranks of Captain, Major and Lt Colonel whereas junior officers, who became eligible after 2006, were granted all these benefits as per the 2004-recommendations of the Ajai Vikram Singh (AVS) Committee.
Bhati added that there was a serious anomaly in the service conditions even though the gazette notification clearly mandated for promotions of Women officers and Short Service Commission Officers irrespective of the date of commission or whether they had opted for old terms (5+5+4 years) or new terms (10+4 years).
In the appeal filed by the MoD in 2013, Bhati submitted before the court that the appeals filed by Army and MoD against pre-2006commissioned women officers, who had opted for old terms (5+5+4) regarding the applicability of the promotional avenues, was completely misplaced and was rather an attempt to deny them their rightful dues.
Later in 2015, a panel set up to reduce litigation by the Army recommended that MoD should withdraw its appeal since it appeared to be based on "self-created negative interpretation" of a scheme that never meant to differentiate between pre-2006 and post-2006 officers.
Army's lawyer R Balasubramanian was on January 17 given time by the court to come back with specific instructions on whether the government intended to fight this case any further.
On Monday, Balasubramanian placed the MoD's letter before the bench, which took it on record and permitted the Army to withdraw its appeal.