The Supreme Court verdict on Monday granting permanent commission (PC) and command positions for women officers is a watershed moment and success “against stereotypical mindset and attitude,” said Aishwarya Bhati, senior advocate and a counsel representing the officers.
Defence sources said PC had already been granted to women officers in many areas and the verdict was for those who joined the service before it was given. “We respect the court ruling,” a senior defence source said.
“Women have been in the Army since 1992, so to deny PC to existing officers and command positions to all of them betrays the constitutional guarantee and also contrary to their demonstrable impeccable service record for the last 27-28 years,” Ms. Bhati said.
Terming it an important milestone in the evolution of women in the armed forces, Ms. Bhati said one interesting observation by the apex court was “they junked the argument of domestic duties, motherhood, biological requirements of women and will ensure greater gender justice and gender dignity in all walks of life”.
Women are already performing combat roles in the IAF, Ms. Bhati said and added this verdict “will ensure greater roles commensurate with their individual merit and aptitude”.
One officer part of the case but did not wish to be identified as she was serving welcomed the judgment but said they were yet to study the details. “We hope it is implemented quickly,” she said.
Army officials declined to comment saying they were yet to study it. A defence source said it’s a misnomer to call command positions in general as there were criteria and non-criteria appointments in all arms and services. Also some criteria appointments were in the field and some were not.
“It is a non-issue. To get criteria appointments we first had to get PC. That is now settled,” the official said adding now women officers would get criteria appointments if they meet the requirements. There are four factors considered while choosing officers for criteria appointments — leadership, performance, qualification and medical fitness, the official said.