SC Dismisses Plea Filed by Women Army Officers for Permanent Commission

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A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed a plea concerning the Permanent Commission. Women officers who completed 14 years of service filed this plea after the cut-off date stipulated in the February judgment. The Court allowing it would have serious implication. The Permanent Commission should be given to women in the army irrespective of their years of service.

Brief Facts of the Case

The judgment referred to here is a 17 February 2020 judgment that confirmed the Delhi High Court order on the issue of allowing women in command positions. The Apex Court had agreed with the HC that women SSC officers should be held at par with their male counterparts and granted Permanent Commission. The Court also had called out the State for perpetuating gender stereotypes. It was stated that this absolute exclusion of women is against Article 14.

The Court had given Permanent Commission to those women officers who completed 14 years of service on the date of delivery of this judgment. This application has been filed by certain officers who finished 14 years of service after the judgment was pronounced. They pray for their inclusion.

Arguments Made by the Parties

Senior Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi appeared for the women officers. She stated that the judgment in question was pronounced on 17 February, and the appellants completed 14 years of service in March. Since the Government did not start implementing the directions given in the judgment until July, they should get the benefit.

Advocate Colonel Balasubramaniam represented the Ministry of Defence. He argued that this judgement set a threshold that only the women officers who have completed 14 years of service by 17th February 2020 will get a pension. If there is no limitation and it is left open-ended, the implementation will be impossible. He mentioned how every six months a batch is commissioned, and they cannot allow all of them the benefit.

Court’s Observations

The bench observed that if they allow this plea for a batch of officers it will have some serious implications. The February judgment referred to the batch that had completed 14 years before the given date. Allowing this plea would extend the application to every batch that completes 14 years of service.

The bench observed that they need to draw the line despite it being difficult to address these matters are they are about the service of the nation.

Court’s Order

The bench comprising of Justice Chandrachud, Justice KM Joseph, and Justice Indu Malhotra declined to allow this plea. They stated that the application seeks a review of the February judgment, and they are not inclined to do the same.


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