Woman can't be barred from joining Army Medical Corps if she gets pregnant: Haryana HC

The woman, who applied in early 2013 for a short service commission in the AMC, was asked to join service in February 2014 after clearing all examinations and medical tests.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 09, 2016, 20:32 PM IST

Chandigarh: In a landmark verdict, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that a woman candidate cannot be permanently debarred from joining as a doctor in the Army Medical Corps on the ground she became pregnant during the selection process, asserting such an action has "no place" in modern India.

The woman, who applied in early 2013 for a short service commission in the AMC, was asked to join service in February 2014 after clearing all examinations and medical tests.

However, between the period of her application and joining, the petitioner conceived and disclosed this fact on the date of joining after which she was not allowed to assume duties. She then approached the Punjab and Haryana court.

Passing a 36-page judgement recently on a petition by the woman, Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu held that forcing a choice between bearing a child and employment interferes both with a woman's reproductive rights and her right to employment and such an action could have no place in modern India.

In the verdict relating to the rights of women in uniformed services, the High Court also held that in such cases, keeping the nature of employment in consideration, the government could grant maternity leave or keep a vacancy reserved which could be offered to a candidate after childbirth.

The woman was informed that she could not join since her pregnancy amounted to deterioration in health. Her candidature was cancelled and she was advised to undergo the entire selection process again in case she wanted to join AMC.

Aggrieved, the petitioner had moved the High Court in 2014, averring that pregnancy was not "deterioration in health" but a mere incidence of marriage and womanhood.

The petitioner pointed out that there would have been no problem had she not disclosed her pregnancy or had conceived the day after joining or had given birth before the joining date and that in paramilitary forces uniformed doctors were simply asked to join after childbirth in case any problem was envisaged due to pregnancy.

Unlike other branches, married women till the age of 45 are eligible to join AMC and there is no formal training in a military academy. The candidates are required to join a hospital closest to the residence and made to complete a basic in-service course of eight weeks within a flexible time period before joining the service.