Treat military nurses at par with regular officers: Tribunal



New Delhi: In a major victory for women in the armed forces, the Armed Forces Tribunal has directed the Government to treat military nurses at par with regular commissioned officers of the three Services in terms of rank and entitlements.

The order by the Tribunal, which enjoys judicial powers, was pronounced on a petition by former Military Nursing Service (MNS) officer Major General Usha Sikder who had sought restoration of status of Nursing Officers at par with all other officers.

"Respondents (central government) are directed to treat all the officers of Military Nursing Service as a part of the regular force of the Indian Armed Forces and extend all entitlements which are commensurate with the rank as equal to commissioned officers of Indian Army to her," the two-member Bench headed by Tribunal Chairman Justice A K Mathur said.

The Tribunal gave the order while quashing the Army order of April 2004 which stated that MNS officers were not at par with rest of the officers of the Services.

"We have no hesitation to declare that Maj Gen Sikder is entitled to be treated as a commissioned officer and as a part of the regular force, and she is authorised to all entitlements which are authorised to the regular recruited army officers of the Indian Army," the Tribunal said.

After the Tribunal order, the MNS officers would be allowed to display flags and star plates on their official vehicles, which symbolise their rank and status.

Maj Gen Sikder had earlier approached Delhi High Court contending that she was "humiliated and insulted" during her visit to a naval hospital in Mumbai by the Commanding Officer Rear Admiral V K Singh who "unceremoniously" denied her "authorised" staff car with star plate and flag signifying her rank.

Officers of the rank of Brigadier-equivalent and above in the armed forces are authorised to display ranks on the flags and star plates of their official vehicles.

Her case was transferred from the High Court after the Tribunal came in the being last year.

Women are commissioned as Nursing officers in the MNS under the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS), which looks after health-related matters of the three Services.

The order is second victory for women in the armed forces within a month as Delhi High Court recently ordered Defence Ministry to grant Permanent Commission to women officers in the Army and the Air Force, who have been in non-combat roles in the armed forces since 1993.

PTI