New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Indian Army to grant permanent commission to women officers within a month and consider others eligible within two months after following the due process, regretting that they were denied so on ground of fitness standards.
A Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah held that all women officers fulfilling the grade of 60% shall be entitled to grant of permanent commission subject to the medical criteria. It rejected the existing benchmarking formula and tweaked the medical criteria also.
It was giving the ruling on petitions filed by 80 women officers who were denied permanent commission. The ruling will benefit some 150 women officers.
Noting that the rules for women joning the Army were "created by males for males," it ruled as arbitrary and irrational the medifal fitness requirements. "We must recognise here that structure of our society has been created by males for males. The pattern of evaluation causes economic and psychological harm to the short service commission women officers," it said.
The court noted that several women officers before the court had won several awards and also done well in overseas assignments. "We find that those who excelled in sports events were ignored, a detailed list of achievements by women has been given in the judgment.
In February, the court had directed the Centre to grant permanent commission to all women officers in the Army within three months, holding as "disturbing" the Centre's argument of physiological limitations and social norms for denying them the command posts.
The court asked the government to change its mindset to put an end to gender bias in the Armed Forces. It slammed the Centre for showing scant in the past decade with regard to implementing the Delhi High Court verdict in 2010 allowing the grant of permanent commission to women officers.
It said engagement of women officers in the Army has been an evolutionary process and the Centre should have acted in accordance with the Delhi High Court judgment when there was no stay on it.