#SheStars

Who Is Leena Gurav? Col. Took On The Army 12 Times In Court, And Won

Who Is Leena Gurav? Col. Took On The Army 12 Times In Court, And Won
Colonel Leena Gurav has been fighting alone in court for more than 16 years to shatter the glass ceiling for women in the Indian Army. The colonel has appeared in court 13 times to assert her legal rights, battling for permanent commissions, promotions, and postings. And on twelve occasions, she has succeeded. Her thirteenth round of combat involves being promoted to brigadier. If she is successful, a first for any female officer serving in the services, she will be in line to lead the army’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch, which handles legal and disciplinary affairs.

The Supreme Court (SC) instructed the army to recalculate the number of vacancies for the brigadier post in accordance with current policy and standards while hearing the case on October 18. The SC noted that “ambiguity in the policy” of the army regarding vacancies for that post had caused the litigation.
Army sources declined to comment when questioned about the situation, claiming that the issue was still pending.

In an interview with The Print, Gurav’s lawyer Sudhanshu Pandey said that the army officer had been forced to knock on the doors of the court throughout her career to get “fair and non-discriminatory treatment”. Here’s all you need to know about Leena Gurav.

Who Is Leena Gurav?

Gurav, a trained attorney, enlisted in the army’s JAG division in 1996. In 2014, she made headlines when she became the first female officer to hold the rank of colonel in an army branch other than the Medical Corps. This accomplishment also required a protracted and challenging legal battle.

Gurav, who was then a major, first turned to the legal system in 2006 when she petitioned the Delhi High Court on the grounds that female officers who join the army through the short-service commission (SSC) should have the same option as their male counterparts to choose a permanent commission (PC) after 14 years of service.


Suggested Reading: Who is Navjit Kaur Brar? Brampton’s First Turban-Wearing Sikh Woman Councillor


Officers may resign from the force, apply for a permanent commission under the SSC, which permits them to continue serving until retirement, or request an extension when their term is over. The petitioners, which included Gurav, claimed that denying women officials permanent commissions continued gender discrimination. The Delhi High Court (HC) rendered a favourable decision in March 2010 in favour of female officers.

Gurav petitioned the Bombay High Court in 2007 after being “unceremoniously” relocated from Mumbai to the Central Command Unit in Lucknow while she battled for gender equality in Delhi.  When she was transferred, she was already far along in her pregnancy and unable to travel.  She then received relief from the HC and continued to live in Mumbai. Gurav’s victory in the permanent commission lawsuit was just the start of a judicial battle she waged to eradicate discrimination against women in the armed forces.

Gurav’s second round of conflict began when the army demanded that she take the basic test, which is a requirement for the granting of a permanent commission, rather than allow her to take the JAG’s promotion examination for the lieutenant colonel position. Gurav argued that because she was already a PC officer, she shouldn’t have to take the basic exam and should be permitted to take the department promotion test instead. In response to her arguments, the Army reaffirmed that Gurav would need to pass the fundamentals test. This prompted Gurav to file a second lawsuit on the subject, which she ultimately won in both the AFT and the Supreme Court.

Despite winning, Gurav was not given the rank she was entitled to. Only until the officer requested the implementation of the AFT’s order once more in 2012 was this action taken. After that, she received a promotion going back to 2010. While she was battling for her promotion to lieutenant colonel, Gurav became qualified for the following rank, colonel. This too turned into a point of contention between her and the army.

Gurav’s second complaint of “biassed treatment” went ignored, and she was forced to file a case with the Delhi High Court and subsequently the AFT, which ultimately was found in her favour. Gurav became the first female colonel in JAG in 2014 with this victory.