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HomeJudiciaryCriterion to screen women for permanent commission unfair, Army officers tell SC

Criterion to screen women for permanent commission unfair, Army officers tell SC

Women officers have filed a plea challenging the General Instructions issued by the Indian Army to screen them for permanent commission.

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New Delhi: Women officers, who fought a decade-long court battle for securing permanent commission (PC) in the Indian Army, are now engaged in yet another litigation.

This time, they have challenged the General Instructions (GI) issued by the Indian Army on 1 August in compliance with the Supreme Court’s 17 February judgment granting PC to its women officers.

The GI refers to the set of instructions to screen women officers for PC in the Indian Army.

In their fresh petition last week, the women officers have alleged that the GI sets out a general medical criterion for all women officers without considering the physiological and biological changes that may have occurred in a few of them during their service period.

They have also alleged that the GI does not mention the promotional avenues for women officers once they become permanent and do not offer them a time-scale promotion benefit, which is available to male officers who have served the Army for more than 26 years.

The landmark February ruling had also directed the central government to grant promotion and other consequential benefits to women officers. But the petitioners have alleged that the GI indirectly traps them into “technical and procedural formalities and consequential denial of their rights”.

Advocate Chitrangada Rastravara, who represented women officers in the top court last week, told ThePrint that the “purported compliance” of the SC judgment, almost five months after it was delivered, is “vitiated with arbitrariness, unfairness and unreasonableness”.

“This is a piecemeal approach by the Army. It has failed to determine a fair, rational road map and a well-reasoned policy for women officers, pushing them to approach the court again to assert their rights. Time is extremely crucial for these women officers who have already lost 15 years (time spent in courts). Instead of compensating them for their loss, the Army is penalising them further with such arbitrary instructions,” Rastrava said.

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

‘Subjecting all women to common deadline irrational’

The women officers have submitted that the medical criterion laid down in the GI is inconsistent with the basic tenets of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Women officers who are being considered for permanent commission fall within the age bracket of 35-50 years. But the medical parameters incorporated in the GI to evaluate them are the same as 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 kind of prejudicial determination will lead to denial of PC to those officers who are equally qualified as their male counterparts and were kept in abeyance only for want of an opportunity of PC at the relevant time in their service career,” the officers claimed.

They also submitted that the medical parameters do not recognise physiological changes as a part of the aging process in the case of women officers. For instance, women officers above 45 years (approaching menopause) as well as unmarried women officers have been asked to undergo pregnancy test, overlooking their age and marital status.

The medical category of a woman in the Army is lowered when a pregnancy is confirmed and she is protected from strenuous duties. In the GI for women, a common deadline has been laid for all women officers, including those in the low medical category, to upgrade themselves to ‘Shape-1‘ category for the grant of PC, said the petitioners.

Subjecting all women to a common deadline is irrational and unjust, they said.

Lack of promotion policy

The petitioners have also highlighted the absence of a policy for promotion of women officers who will be approved by the Permanent Commission Board.

The existing parameters on which an officer is assessed for the purposes of promotion includes attending certain courses and appointments. However, since women officers were not eligible for PC earlier, they never got an opportunity to attend these courses. And, even if they were given an opportunity to attend those, it wasn’t for the purpose of evaluation by the promotion board, the officers said.

The women officers argued that they cannot be evaluated for promotion on the basis of parameters fixed for their male counterparts. This lack of promotion policy is likely to become another hurdle or roadblock for the women officers, unless fresh rules are prepared by the Army, they said.

“The conduct of the respondent suggests that they are playing psychological warfare with these women officers to avoid every possibility of granting them the benefits of permanent commission, promotion and consequential benefits, which is in clear violation of the order,” the petition said.

Also read: In a first, 2 woman Navy aviators will operate from warship, IAF trains woman pilot for Rafale


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    The armed forces’ job is not to provide social justice but to pick people who can protect the nation! Many men are rejected for far lesser reson during SSB and women training standards are still far inferior to men yet they claim they r judged by male criteria!

    So in the court, they went ahead stating women r equal to men in every way yet now they say women have biological difference and menstruation! Isn’t this what sane people has been saying? Why can’t women attain Shape 1 category fitness? Preganacy or menopause or menstruation r not valid excuses to be out of shape. 45 yrs is nothing; look at female actors or wrestlers or sports women and how they maintain fitness levels into their 50’s. So many female labourers do heavy work with babies tied to their backs without making any fuss! Why can’t these previleged ‘female warriors” make an effort to shape up?

    This brings out the hollowness of their arguments. They want all the perks but cannot move a muscle to finish the responsibilities that comes with it.

  2. Given the different anatomy and biological differences of male and female Bodies,
    The medical standards also has to be different.
    Given the requirement of the Army which is to safeguard the nation can not be compromised at any cost.Hence the age factor can not be overlooked.

  3. On one hand women officers are asking to be treated equally under the Article 14 on the other they are asking for different set of parameters than their male counterparts. What a circus.

    Army already has a very relaxed physical requirments for women. If they were equal virtually none of the women officers seeking PC would be qualified to join army let alone be rise to staff positions. If equal physical standards are retroactively implimented, most of these officers will have to leave army, lest they set a preccedent that having a different set of genitals is their biggest qualification and male officers are utter fools for having gone through back breaking training and maintaing physical standards for their entire career.

    That being said, I am sure that the activist judiciary will come up an asinine judgement where “running” 5km in 2 hours will be considered as excellent timing. For equality off course.

  4. Most of the lady officers in the Army want to be treated as “Lady” during duties and as “officer” for privileges.

  5. Now this is odd, Military is not a place of equality in terms of physical aspects. I as a man might not be able to qualify as well because of my physical limits. And while we are talking about equality, why relaxation to women based on sex? Will they ask for same relaxation when women have to lead surgical strike or a company in war? Either you qualify the high standards or not! It is irrespective of sex

  6. Sounds like a case of wanting cake and eating it too..

    Either they conform to the rigors and physical demands of military service or they quit. Their pregnancy is not the responsibility of the Army that is paying them to fight wars not produce children.

    It is incumbent on women in all fighting branches to recognize the singular truth and purpose of the military – to fight wars and kill our enemies.

    Man, woman, transvestite doesnt matter. Fact is that the Army chose the for technical roles only, thats how they got in. Only new female recruits selected with the same standards as males should be allowed to get PC, not these old women.

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