The Court also directed permanent commission to women officers in armed forces.
In a note from a report, the government had told the Supreme Court that “troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command of units” since they are “predominantly drawn from a rural background”
The Supreme Court announced on February 17, women officers in the Army can get commanding positions, not combat roles, at par with male officers, asserting that the government’s arguments against it were “discriminatory”, “disturbing,” and based on stereotype. The court has ordered the changes to be implemented within three months.
In simpler words, a woman colonel can command a battalion now, which is the first level of independent command in the Army.
The Supreme Court also said women who have served less than 14 years in the Short Service Commission (SSC) in the Army can have the option of permanent commission. “We see no reason to grant permanent commission only to those who had have more than 14 years in service,” the court said, commenting that there is a “fundamental fallacy” in the policy.
The court said, the Army could not discriminate between men and women, striking down blatant gender bias propagated for years. It further said that an absolute bar on granting command post to women officers in the Army is irrational and against the right to equality.
“To cast aspersions on gender is an affront to their dignity and to the country. Time has come that women officers are not adjunct to their male counterparts,” said the court.
The court also rejected the centre’s arguments of physiological limitations, social norms for denying permanent commission to women officers, calling it disturbing. “Physiological features of women have no link to their rights. The mindset must change,” said Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi in their landmark ruling.
The government had told the Supreme Court that “troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command of units” since they are “predominantly drawn from a rural background”.