This Article is From Jul 14, 2016

Officer Pooja Thakur, Who Led Guard of Honour For Obama, Sues Indian Air Force

Wing Commander Pooja Thakur has taken the Indian Air Force to the Armed Forces Tribunal


  • Officer Pooja Thakur takes Indian Air Force To Armed Forces Tribunal
  • Pooja Thakur goes to court after being denied full service
  • Pooja Thakur led Guard of Honour for President Obama
New Delhi: Wing Commander Pooja Thakur, who became one of the most visible faces of the Indian Air Force (IAF) after leading a Guard of Honour for US President Barack Obama last year, has gone to the Armed Forces Tribunal after being denied full service.

The 37-year-old officer says in her petition that the IAF's decision to deny her permanent commission is "biased, discriminatory, arbitrary and unreasonable".

The Air Force has been asked to respond in four weeks.

Pooja Thakur's lawyer said it is "not a gender issue" but a procedural one.

"IAF says Pooja Thakur was offered permanent commission in 2012, she declined it then and it can be offered only once. No new offer can be given," said her lawyer, retired Major S Pandey.

"She had said no only because she was temporarily not willing at the time," he added.  

Wing Commander Thakur became the first woman officer to lead a tri-services Guard of Honour last year when President Obama visited India for the Republic Day parade.

Mr Obama had said later at an event that the sight of "incredible" Indian women in the armed forces was one of his "favourite things" in India.

The daughter of an army colonel, the Rajasthan officer joined the Air Force in 2000.

Last month, the Air Force took in its first batch of women fighter pilots, but as short service commission officers, which means they will serve for a maximum of 14 years and retire without benefits.

Permanent commission means women officers get a chance to rise to the rank of Lieutenant General and retire at 60 with full benefits.

Wing Commander Thakur, the sources said, is an Administrative Officer and "each branch of the IAF has different criteria to grant women permanent commission."

Women were allowed in the Air Force as full officers in 2010 after nearly 50 women officers, including 22 from the IAF, moved court. More than 250 women were granted permanent commission after the high court ruled in their favour.