Denial of command posts to women officers on physiological limits regressive: SC

On February 5, the apex court while reserving the verdict on the issue had asked the officers and the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to submit their written submissions against the March 2010 judgment of the Delhi High Court which had directed the Navy to grant permanent commission to all its officers on short service commission. Serving officers in the have countered the Centre’s stand on denying command posts to on the ground of their limitations in the .

In their written submission to the Supreme court, the women officers sought rejection of the submission of the Centre and said it is unfortunate that such grounds have been raised, terming it not only “regressive but also completely contrary to the demonstrated record and statistics”.

  • The women officers said they have been serving in the 10 Combat Support Arms, for the last 27 to 28 years and have proven their mettle and courage under fire.
  • “They have been found suitable by the organization itself and have led platoons and companies of soldiers and men, both in peace locations as also hostile locations/operations, in the 10 Combat Support Arms. There has never been any occasion of soldiers/men having refused or not accepted the command of women on account of their perceived ‘rural background, with prevailing societal norms’,” the written submission stated.
  • They do not lack in any manner in the roles that have been assigned to them.
  • The women officers said according to the policy letter dated February 25, 2019; permanent commission to women officers is being confined to “staff appointments only”, as against “criteria appointments/command appointments”.
  •  “It is submitted that women officers have been working shoulder to shoulder, with their colleagues in the Indian Army. Even as Short Service Commission Women Officers (SSCWOs), they have been working as a company commander and leading the soldiers from the front as per the ethos of the Indian Army,” they said.
  • They contended that no such confinement of women officers to staff appointments only has ever been contemplated or notified in any of the advertisements or policy decisions since 1992 when women were first inducted into the Indian Army.
  • “To deny them command appointments would be an extremely retrograde step and will inflict irreparable injury to the dignity of these brave women,” the women officers said in their written submission.

Countering the Centre’s stand on denying command posts to women in the Army on the ground of their physiological limitations and prevailing societal norms, the women officers contended before the Supreme Court that it reflected a regressive mindset of the , which will perpetuate . The reasons cited by the Central for not giving command appointments to women in the Indian Army have been criticized as ‘highly regressive’ in the written submissions filed by women officers in the Supreme Court.

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