New Delhi: The Army is open to letting a group of Short Service Commission (SSC) women litigants be eligible for pension if they complete the mandatory 20 years of service, but is not open to granting them permanent commission.
The development comes amid an ongoing case in the Supreme Court, where a plea has been filed by 322 women officers, demanding permanent commission.
A Short Service Commission means a limited period career in the armed forces.
The Army had changed its rules last year allowing the option of permanent commission to SSC women officers, who would have otherwise retired after 14 years of service.
However, this is not in retrospective and would apply only to the new batch of women officers starting this year.
“The Army is open to letting the litigants complete 20 years of service, the minimum period to be eligible for pension,” a senior Army officer said on condition of anonymity.
The officer said the matter is sub judice and, hence, won’t be able to comment more.
What SC had said last year
While the SSC term ends at 14 years, some women officers have been in the job for close to 20 years.
The Supreme Court had last year said the armed forces should consider granting permanent commission to women officers in armed forces under the Short Service Commission before March 2019. The Army has notified permanent commission to women officers, who join the forces under SSC, after March 2019.
Former Adjutant General Lieutenant General Ashwani Kumar had said that after women officers would opt for a specialised stream under permanent commission, they will undergo training for the stream.
During her second and third year of service, she will identify one of the six specialised streams for permanent commission, he had said.
Permanent commission in the Army will be opened for women from April 2020.
A second senior Army officer said that suitability for permanent commission will also be checked for the officers.
“It needs to be seen that the process of induction of women also did not happen overnight. An officer has to go through a number of courses to be eligible for permanent commission. So, it may not be feasible towards the end of the term.,” the officer added.
Last year, the defence ministry had said that women officers will be granted permanent commission in the Army in all the 10 branches in which they are inducted into under Short Service Commission such as Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, among others.
Earlier, women would get permanent commission in Judge Advocate General and Army Education Corps.
In a recent hearing, the women officers told the Supreme Court that according to the policy letter dated 25 February 2019, permanent commission to women officers is being confined to staff appointments only, as against “criteria appointments/command appointments”.