Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Tribune - Permanent commission: HC sides with women

High Court sides with women. They’re on a par with male officers, tells Centre

R Sedhuraman & Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12. In a path-breaking judgement, the Delhi High Court today directed the Centre to offer within two months Permanent Commission (PC) to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers of the Air Force and the Army at par with male SSC officers with all consequential benefits, including promotion.

At present, the Indian Army offers permanent commission to women after 10 years of SSC. This is applicable to those who were recruited after March 2009 and that too only in two streams — the Judge Adjutant General (JAG) branch and the Education corps.

Women are also recruited in Signals, Engineers, Ordnance and Air Defence but are not eligible for PC.

In the IAF, women are offered a permanent option in the Legal, Accounts and Education corps. Women chopper and transport pilots, engineering corps, Logistics and Meteorological streams are not eligible for permanent commission. At present, there are about 1,050 and 827 women officers in the Army and the IAF, respectively. Separately, the Navy has 280 women.

Strangely, and against the principles of natural justice, those women who were recruited before March 2009 were not offered any permanent commission. They simply retire after 10 years or at best get another 4 years’ extension in service. In reality, the Ministry of Defence existing policy will help the women only in 2019 when the first batch will be eligible.

Correcting this anomaly, a Bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Mool Chand Garg today ruled: “Women officers of the Air Force who had opted for PC and were not granted PC but granted extension of SSCs and of the Army are entitled to PC at par with male SSC officers.”

The benefit would be extended to women officers recruited prior to change of policy ( March 2009) and the PC shall be offered to them after completion of five years. However, these benefits would be available only to women officers in service or who approached the HC but retired when the case was pending in the court, the Bench clarified.

The court made significant remark on having women in combat roles saying “the claim of absorption in areas of operation not open for recruitment of women officers cannot be sustained being a policy decision.”

The court also refused to interfere with the policy decision which does not offer PC to SSC officers across the board for men and women being on parity and as part of manpower management exercises.

The HC clarified that those women officers, who “have not attained the age of retirement available for the PC officers shall, however, be reinstated in service and shall be granted all consequential benefits including promotion, except for the pay and allowance for the period they have not been in service.”

The HC expressed the hope that with the expanding horizon of women participation in different walks of life, the respondents would be encouraged to have larger participation of women in more areas of operation both for SSC and PC.


No comments:

Post a Comment