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Permanent Commission For Women: SC Calls Army’s Evaluation Criteria “Irrational”

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Permanent commission criteria “irrational”: The Supreme Court of India said on Thursday that women officers must be subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance for permanent commission. The order was passed while hearing a batch of petitions filed by women who were rejected for permanent commission by the Indian Army and Navy.

While pronouncing the verdict, the bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said, “We allow these petitions with a number of directions. Officers will be considered for permanent commission subject to disciplinary and vigilance clearance. This shall continue and they shall avail all benefits.”

The court also made observations about the Army’s evaluation criteria to grant permanent commission to officers during the ruling,¬† calling it “arbitrary and irrational”. The bench pointed out, “The evaluation criteria adopted by Army constitutes systemic discrimination of women… The criteria requiring them to match the lowest merit of the male officer and requirement to be in SHAPE-1 criteria disproportionately affects women.” The bench however added that no judicial review of standards adopted by the Indian Army is possible.

The SC bench further said, “A career in the army comes with many trials. It becomes more difficult when the society puts responsibility of childcare and domestic work on women.”

In July last year, the centre had granted permanent commission to women officers in the Army. The official letter released by the Ministry of Defence granted the permanent commission to women in ten streams, including army air defence, signals, engineers, army aviation, electronics and mechanical engineers, army service corps, and Intelligence corps in addition to the existing streams of Army Education Corps (AEC) and the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Department.

The grant came after a historic decision in February the same year by India’s apex court, that directed to centre to allot permanent commission and command postings to Army’s women officers.

In November 2020 however, numerous women officers moved Supreme Court saying less than 50 percent of the female officers have been granted permanent commission. Read more about it here.

Image Credit: The Week