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Permanent commission for women officers

Serving women Army officers won their first round of legal battle with the Govt today.



New Delhi: Serving women army officers won
their first round of legal battle with the Government today
assuring the Supreme Court that it will be considering giving
them permanent commission in legal and educational branches.

However, these officers demanding permanent commission
in combat, infantry and other wings of the army will have to
wait for a longer period to get this recognition.

Seven years after the protracted legal battle,
Government, which was at the receiving end in the apex court,
gave an undertaking that women serving officers of Short
Service Commission will be considered for permanent commission
in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and educational branches
of army.

The undertaking in this regard, which stated that the
exercise will be completed within two months, was submitted by
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium before a Bench comprising
Justices J M Panchal and Gyan Sudha Mishra.

The Bench recorded the undertaking which said, "The
Solicitor General on instruction states that women short
service commission officers in service shall be considered for
permanent commission in JAG and educational branch of Army."

The court also recorded the undertaking that the case
of Major Lina Gurung, a short service commission officer, who
is retiring in August will be considered on priority subject
to the requirements.

After the SG gave the undertaking, the Bench stayed
contempt proceedings against army till further orders for not
complying with the Delhi High Court directions to grant
permanent commission to women serving in the armed forces.

"In view of the statements made at Bar by the
Solicitor General, the contempt proceeding is stayed till
further order," the Bench said.

In all there are 2,200 women officers including 1,200
in Army, 750 in Airforce and 250 in Navy, according to Defence
Ministry figures.

The Bench asked the government to file an additional
affidavit elaborating the nature of duty assigned to the
officers getting permanent commission.

The court said after receiving the details from the
Army, it will further examine the issue of permanent
commission for women Army officers.

As soon as the proceedings began, the Bench said, "If
you can`t give permanent commission, why at all give the short
service commission to the women in the Army."

The Bench asked "Why do you give short service
commission at all, if you don`t find them eligible for
permanent commission. Why then in Air Force, the permanent
commission is given?"

Subramanium replied that permanent commission is given
in Air Force as the women officers are not asked to be in a
combat position.

"In Army, you have to command battle troops in the
battlefield," the SG said.

At this point, the Bench wanted to know if women
officers in SSC lead the troops to the battlefield.

Subramanium said only the male officers who are given
permanent commission from SSC go for training for command
appointment.

"If a person is not trained for 15 years to lead a
troop, how will you give them permanent commission," he said.

Currently, women are inducted in the Army as officers
under Short Service Commission for a maximum period of 14
years whereas their male counterparts are eligible to receive
permanent commission after five years.

The Bench wanted to know whether so far no lady
officer had ever been sent to the battlefield.

The SG said that there has not been any such case
since "the appointment in infantry leads to the battlefield".

While concluding the hearing, the court asked the Army
to show from the records that the male officers who are given
permanent commission after the SSC are sent for battle
training.

The apex court had on July 26 asked the Army to
produce before it the government notification which debars
women officers from getting permanent commission in the armed
forces.

The Army had moved the apex court challenging the
Delhi High Court judgement directing the armed forces to grant
permanent commission to women serving in the armed forces.

Sixty serving and retired women officers from Army
and Air Force had moved the High Court which had said they
should be treated equally with male officers.

PTI

From Zee News

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