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Army to call special selection board to screen women officers for permanent commission

Some women officers said the process is still ambiguous and more clarity is needed as many have been asked to undergo a junior command course next month.

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New Delhi: Weeks after the Ministry of Defence issued the formal Government Sanction Letter (GSL) to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers, the Army headquarters is now in the process of convening a Special Number 5 Selection Board to screen women officers to grant them permanent commission.

A statement from the Army Tuesday said detailed administrative instructions and guidelines for submission of applications have been issued to all the women officers.

Women officers are now eligible for permanent commission in 10 streams of the Army, including the Army Air Defence, Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, and Intelligence Corps. 

Women officers were already eligible for permanent commission in Judge and Advocate General, and the Army Educational Corps.

The GSL has come five months after the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment on 17 February, 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 14 years.

Also read: 10 things you need to know about the Supreme Court judgment on women officers in Army

Send applications by 31 August

The Army statement mentioned that women officers, who have joined the Indian Army through the Women Special Entry Scheme and Short Service Commission Women, are being considered and all of them have been instructed to submit their application forms, option certificate and other related documents to the headquarters by 31 August.

“Specimen formats and detailed checklists have been included in the administrative instructions in order to facilitate correct documentation,” the statement said.

It added that due to the Covid-19 restrictions, multiple means of dissemination of instructions have been adopted to ensure that these documents reach all women officers on priority.

“The Selection Board will be scheduled immediately after receipt and verification of applications,” it added.

‘Still a lot of ambiguity’

Some women officers told ThePrint that any SSC Army officer, irrespective of gender, has to go through this special selection board when they want to opt for permanent commission.  

“It is a natural move and we were due for it for the last 14 years,” a woman officer said. 

A second officer, however, said there is still a lot of ambiguity because several woman officers, who were due for their permanent commissions and promotion, have been asked to undergo junior command course, which begins from 3 September.

Junior command courses are for officers with 5 to 13 years of service and meant to train them for junior command appointments in the Army, but most of the women officers, who will have to undergo the course, have already completed over 20 years of service in the Army. 

They had not done the course earlier as their case for permanent commission in the Army was sub judice.

“By 31 August, we have to submit our documents and within three days the junior command course will begin and then again by 11 September, we have to submit our detailed medical reports for the special selection board,” the second officer said. 

“With the current quarantine protocols in place, there has to be more clarity on how it will be done,” the officer added.  

Also read: Women Army officers welcome SC order as win for parity, say no one should play ‘woman card’


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