A recent judgment by the SC has allowed women to have permanent commission in the Air Force. A bench, headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur, told the government, “Let her fly… let her be airborne all the time,” as reported by The Hindu.
It was a fight led by Sandeep Kaur, an Air Force pilot whose permanent commission was taken away from her by the government. According to the established structure of the Air Force, Kaur’s time to fly was over.
The government, represented by attorney Mukul Rohatgi, submitted that Kaur will not be compelled to retire until the SC permits her to.
Kaur had first knocked the doors of the government in March, seeking permanent commission in the Air Force but the government rejected her plea, maintaining that she is not entitled to it. However, on December 13, the Armed Forces Tribunal forced the government to rethink its decision on permanent commission and come to a conclusion in two months.
Also, the Tribunal allowed the Air Force to let Kaur continue to serve the nation if she is capable and qualified enough to do it. But the government moved the SC against the Tribunal and asked for a stay order.
The attorney of Kaur, Arun Monga, put forth a strong case of women in the past who served the nation but were not treated well as they approached older age.
On realising that the women don’t even get a pension, the SC ruled that Kaur can fly further. The news has brought joy to all those women fighting for equality and better services in the Armed Forces.
In 2010, Delhi High Court had held that women deserve better treatment by the government — the Army’s appeal against HC’s ruling is still pending for five years in the SC. The HC had said that if men working in the same capacity get permanent commission, then it does not understand why equally capable women don’t.
The HC had passed this judgment on several petitions brought forth in 2003 by advocate Babita Punia and several women officers who held that women in the armed forces are discriminated against on the basis of gender. They are given Short Service Commission for periods extendable only up to 10 years. However, the Army has tried to justify its stand against women’s permanent commission by saying that they will have to live in extreme conditions which is harmful for them.
Picture credit- SSB Crack