After being made eligible for permanent commission in the Army this February by the Supreme Court, women officers are now set to approach the apex court to question the revised standards that the women in the military must now meet. These include new physical fitness tests and completion of a mandatory junior command (JC) course.

The woman officers have said that the physical test lacked a scientific foundation and due to insufficient training, multiple women could be disqualified, reports TOI.  The test is compulsory for all women, including those commissioned before 2009 and above 35 years of age, who were initially exempt from it.

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India, in February 2020, deemed women officers eligible for permanent commission in the Army. This decision brought women officers in 10 streams of the Army.

New Guidelines For Women Officers

The Directorate General of Military Training (DGMT) of Army made a JC course at Army War College at Mhow mandatory for women officers in March. It also rolled out a novel Battle Physical Efficiency Test (BPET) for women officers/women cadets/women recruits.

The BPET is a series of physical tests that are meant to test the physical fitness to perform military tasks. For women officers, this includes a five-km run, a 60-metre sprint and climbing vertical rope up to a height. It also entails traversing horizontal rope and jumping a six-feet ditch. Furthermore, women have to complete all the tasks over a course of stipulated time.

As per the new guidelines, the time taken to run at height of 5000 feet/1500 metres in the age category for women officers below 30 years should be 30 minutes or less for ‘Excellent’. In contrast, the 2011 letter stipulated 32 minutes for ‘Excellent’.

Also Read: Women Army Officers: We Didn’t Fight For A Job, We Fought To Serve

Similarly,  they decreased the time frame for distance run at height from 5000 feet to 9000 feet. In the category of 60 metre sprint for the ‘Excellent’ grading, the guidelines reduced the time from 16 seconds to 15 seconds.

“Women officers have done field postings in Kargil, Drass, Jodhpur, Srinagar and the northeast without undergoing BPET since women officers above 35 were exempt. Now suddenly asking them to complete the tests without training is atrocious. These standards aren’t based on scientific data. Many might not pass such tests and won’t be eligible for permanent commission. We will approach the Supreme Court,” A senior Lt Colonel-rank officer told TOI.

What You Should Know

  • The women officers are going to approach the Supreme Court to question the revised standards for physical fitness.
  • These include new physical fitness tests and completion of a mandatory junior command (JC) course.
  • The officers stated that the tests lacked a scientific foundation and due to insufficient training, multiple women could be disqualified. 
  • The test is compulsory for all women officers.

Another officer told TOI that no consultations were held with the Army Institute of Physical Training (AIPT), Pune, nor were any medical boards set up to recommend these standards.

Also Read: India women army officers talk about the hurdles they face

Women officers have been instructed to attend the courses being conducted at the Army War College. Conventionally, male officers between five to 10 years of service have completed this course. Consequently, women officers of much senior service bracket of 15 and 16 years of service would have to finish it. With regard to the permanent commission, women officers will have to complete mandatory courses of their respective branches along with the JC course.

The Supreme Court on 7 July gave one more month to the Centre to comply with its February verdict.

Image Credit: The Week

Ria Chakraborty is an intern with SheThePeople.TV


Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.