Holding that both male and female should be treated equally, the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday granted permanent commissions to women officers in the Indian navy.
The move means that female naval officers women officers in navy would be able to serve until retirement, in contrast to the short service commission (SSC) which allowed women to serve for 10 years with a possible extension of four years, after which they were released from the service.
“Denial of permanent commission to SSC women in navy who have served the nation is a grave miscarriage of justice,” the court said.
The court has granted the federal government three months to implement the directive. It has also rejected federal government’s objection to granting permanent commissions to women officers in the navy and termed it gender stereotyping.
The Supreme Court also reprimanded the navy for its claim that Indian vessels are of Russian origin and do not have washroom facilities for women.
Judge J. Chandrachud, who was part of the Divisions Bench said: “Illusory excuse. Women have worked shoulder to shoulder. (these are) Excuses to justify non-discharge of statutory duty.”
The Supreme Court has delivered the verdict in response to the plea filed by federal government against a Delhi High Court judgement in 2015, which backed women officers’ claim for permanent commissions in the navy.
Earlier this month, Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh promised to open all the branches of the armed forces to women.
“We believe that no branch of the Armed Forces should remain closed for women officers. I know that there is some degree of resistance against the commission of women in all branches of the services but this resistance is reducing,” Rajnath Singh had said on 8 March in New Delhi.
Women today are working in all branches of the air forces, eight branches of the army and all non-seagoing branches of the navy.
Women comprise 3.89 percent of the total officers in the army while the number is 6.7 percent for the navy and 13.28 percent in the air force.