The Supreme Court will hear on Thursday a batch of petitions filed by women officers for permanent commission in the Indian Army and Navy, seeking a direction that contempt proceedings be initiated against those who had allegedly failed in their duty to comply with the earlier judgement of the top court.
In their petitions, the women army officers have alleged that the directions were not being complied with in “letter and spirit”.
One such petition, filed by Chitrangda Rastravara and Advocate on Record (AOR) Archana Pathak Dave, seeks SC’s immediate direction to implement its earlier order.
The Supreme Court, earlier in February, made it clear that it cannot modify its verdict directing the Centre to consider granting permanent commission to women officers in the Army by entertaining individual grievances, that too almost a year after its pronouncement.
The top court, in its landmark verdict delivered on February 17, 2020, had asked the Centre to consider all serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers for permanent commission irrespective of them having crossed 14 years or, as the case may be, 20 years of service.
Justice Chandrachud had authored last year’s verdict which had said that as a one-time measure, the benefit of continuing in service until the attainment of 20 years pensionable service shall also apply to all the existing SSC officers with more than fourteen years of services.
It had held that the option of grant of permanent commission shall be given to all women SSC officers and if those with more than 14 years of service do not opt for it then they will be entitled to continue in service until they attain 20 years of pensionable services.
While granting permanent commission to women officers in Army, it had rejected the Centre’s stand of their physiological limitations as being based on “sex stereotypes” and ”gender discrimination against women”. The top court had accepted the Centre’s policy of February 25, 2019 to grant permanent commission to SSC women officers in all the 10 streams in the Army.
The top court had said SSC women officers with over 20 years of service who are not granted permanent commission shall retire on pension in terms of policy decision. It had noted that Indian Army has sanctioned 50,266 posts for officers, while the posts currently occupied are 40,825 including 1,653 by women officers. It had noted that there is a shortage of 9,441 officers in the Indian Army.