New Delhi: Over 400 women Army officers — some of whom fought a legal battle lasting 14 years — have been found eligible for permanent commission by the Army, ThePrint has learnt.
This came out in the board results declassified by the Army Thursday, according to sources in the armed service. The Army headquarters had convened a Special Number 5 Selection Board to screen women officers to grant them permanent commission.
The eligible women officers are of the rank of majors and lieutenant colonels. Many of them have already served in the Army for over 20 years, but had not been given promotions since the matter was sub-judice.
The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment on 17 February, had granted permanent commission to women officers in the Army irrespective of their number of years of service. The women officer-litigants had been fighting the case for over a decade.
The results of around 46 women officers have, however, been withheld on administrative grounds and non-receipt of medical documents, said Army sources. These officers will continue to serve in the Army on provisional extension.
Some of these 46 women had approached the Supreme Court in October, challenging the General Instructions (GI) issued by the Indian Army on 1 August in compliance with the top court’s February judgment.
The GI was a set of instructions issued to screen women officers for permanent commission in the Army.
ThePrint reached Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand through a text message for a comment on the matter, but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.
615 women officers screened, 422 found eligible
As many as 615 women were screened, who were in the service bracket of 10-25 years, of which 422 qualified for permanent commission on the basis of their appraisal records.
Of the 422 officers, 57 opted to leave the service with pension.
Many among the 46 officers in the age bracket of 35-50 years, whose results were withheld, had approached the apex court, stating that the medical criteria laid down in the GI to evaluate them are the same as those used for male officers aged 25-30 years, who are given the option of a permanent commission in their 5th and 10th year of service.
‘This is a change’
Some women Army officers ThePrint spoke to said they are happy to have finally got their due.
“This move will pave the way for our promotions, which did not take place in all these years. This is a change,” a woman Army officer told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
“While I might not become a General owing to the limited years of service left, I’m sure in future, women who join the Army will rise up the ranks for command roles and also to become Generals,” the officer added.
Women Army officers are now eligible for permanent commission in Army Air Defence, Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, and Intelligence Corps, in addition to Judge and Advocate General and the Army Educational Corps, where women officers already had permanent commission.
In a 17-March judgment, the Supreme Court had allowed permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Navy. The court had directed the central government to grant the permanent commission within three months. However, last month the court extended the deadline for implementation of its judgment to 31 December.