Court To Hear Plea Against Bar On Married People Joining Army's Legal Wing

Many eligible young married law graduates are deprived the grant of short service commission in the Indian Army for Judge Advocate General branch on the grounds of marital status, especially women, the plea said.

Court To Hear Plea Against Bar On Married People Joining Army's Legal Wing

Delhi High Court allowed permitted the Centre to file any additional affidavit on the plea. (File)

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court today said it will hear on January 11 a plea challenging the restriction on married individuals being considered for the Judge Advocate General (JAG) department, the legal arm of the army.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh allowed an early hearing application by petitioner Kush Kalra and permitted the Centre to file any additional affidavit on it.

"List for hearing on January 11, 2022. If the respondent wants to file any affidavit, the same is permitted to be filed," said the bench.

The petitioner sought to advance the date of hearing on the ground that "taking advantage" of the en-bloc adjournment of the petition on account of the pandemic, the authorities have issued a fresh advertisement calling upon young law graduates to apply for the post of JAG.

"No purpose would be served by keeping this matter pending for a long period and due to the pendency of the said writ petition many eligible young married law graduates are deprived the grant of short service commission in the Indian Army for Judge Advocate General branch on the grounds of marital status, especially women," the application for early hearing said.

In 2019, the Centre had earlier told the high court that "right to marry" was not a fundamental right and does not come under the ambit of Right to Life under the Constitution.

It had contended that there was no discrimination on the basis of marital status in the JAG department or any other stream of the force.

The Centre had said in an affidavit the restriction was imposed on both men and women as pre-commission training involves a high amount of physical and mental stress and once they are commissioned, there is no bar on marrying or having children.

Till 2017, married women were not eligible for recruitment in the JAG department while there was no such restriction on married men. This policy was challenged by Mr Kalra in 2016 for being discriminatory to female candidates.

During the pendency of that petition, the government issued a corrigendum on August 14, 2017, amending the marital criterion according to which now only unmarried men and women were to be considered eligible for various entry schemes of army including JAG department.

Mr Kalra had, thereafter, filed a fresh petition challenging the alleged "discrimination" towards married individuals and said the corrigendum curtailed the civilians' rights to marry after attaining the legal age.

The latest petition, filed through advocate Charu Wali Khanna in 2018, has questioned the basis for barring married persons from joining JAG when marital status is not an eligibility criteria for the "equally ranked" judiciary and Indian Civil Services.

The petitioner has contended that the discrimination on grounds of marriage violated Article 14 (Right to Equality), Article 16 (Equality of opportunity), Article 19(1)(g) (Right to practice any profession) and Article 21 (Right to live with dignity) of the Constitution.

JAG or Judge Advocate General is the legal advisor to the Chief of the Army Staff in matters of military, martial and international law.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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