After around 80 women army officers filed petitions against the late implementation of the medical fitness criteria, the Supreme Court ruled on March 25th that the medical fitness requirement for women to get permanent commission in the army was “arbitrary” and “irrational”.
“We must recognise here that the structure of our society has been created by males, for males,” the Apex Court said.
According to the ruling, the army’s selective Annual Confidential Report (ACR) evaluation and late implementation of the medical fitness criterion disfavours women officers. A two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, said, “The pattern of evaluation causes economic and psychological harm to SSC (short service commission) women officers.” As per reports, the women officers who petitioned wanted contempt proceedings to be initiated against those who allegedly did not observe the court’s previous judgment.
“Several of the women officers before the court had won several awards. Several had done well on overseas assignments. We find that those excelled in sports events were ignored, a detailed list of achievements by women has been given in the judgment... It looks like the Board was sitting for rejection rather than selection,” Justice Chandrachud commented.
According to the February 2020 ruling by the Supreme Court, women officers in the Army were eligible for command positions on par with their male peers, emphasising that the government's arguments opposing it were “discriminatory”, “disturbing”, and based on typecasting women. The court ruled that permanent commission would be available to all women, irrespective of their years of service.
Since then, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy have already granted Permanent Commission to women officers, and have even opened up some combat roles for women. In the navy, women officers inducted through SSC are now recruited in logistics, law, observers, air traffic control, maritime reconnaissance pilots, and Naval Armament Inspectorate Cadre.
*Image for representational purposes only