The Supreme Court on Monday (February 16) upheld Delhi High Court order on giving command positions to women officers and criticised the Centre for failing to implement the judgment of the Delhi HC which had held that women SSC officers should be granted permanent Commission at par with male counterparts.
The apex court said that the nature of arguments in the written submissions of the Centre was contrary to its own policy framed in 2019 regarding Permanent Commission for women.
SC bench headed by Justice Chandrachud said that Centre's written note for opposing permanent commission and command appointment to women citing physiological features perpetuates "gender stereotypes".
The top court remarked that it is an insult to women as well as the Army when aspersions are cast on women, their ability and their achievements in the army.
"Absolute exclusion of women from command assignments is against Article 14 and unjustified. Centre's argument that women can be given only Staff appointments is unenforceable," said the SC.
The top court also ruled that denying permanent commission to women on ground that they have over 14 years service is a travesty of justice and the rules must apply equally to all. The SC bench observed that it is indefensible to deny permanent commission to women and the "blanket ban on command posting cannot be sustained in law".
Notably, the Centre has submitted a note to the apex court highlighting a list of issues, including "physical prowess" and "physiological limitations", as challenges for women Army officers to meet the exigencies of service.
"Composition of rank and file being male, predominantly drawn from rural background, with prevailing societal norms, troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept WOs (women officers) in command of units," said the note.
"Inherent physiological differences between men and women preclude equal physical performance resulting in lower physical standards and hence the physical capacity of WOs (women officers) in the IA remain a challenge for command of units," it had added.
The note also mentioned that officers are expected to lead their men 'from the front' and they should be physically fit to undertake combat tasks.