The Supreme Court today cited the achievements of several women military officers to drive home the point that absolute bar on granting command post to women officers in the Army is irrational and against right to equality.
In a landmark ruling, Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi allowed women Army officers to be given command positions on par with male officers. The judgment has to be implemented within three months.
It also said even women who have served more than 14 years in the Short Service Commission (SSC) in the Army can have the option of permanent commission. There is a "fundamental fallacy" in the centre's policy of considering only women with less than 14 years for permanent commission, it said.
While delivering the judgement, the court highlighted the achievements of Captain Tania Sher Gill and Lieutenant Colonel Sophia Qureshi, among others.
Captain Gill led an all-men contingent during the Republic Day parade in Delhi's Rajpath this year. It was a second time in a row that a woman officer led the Corps of Signals Contingent. Captain Gill also became the first woman Parade Adjutant to lead an all-men contingent during the Army Day function.
"Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to join fauj (Army), I had always seen my father getting ready, wearing his uniform. So I always had it at the back of my mind that one day I will earn the uniform," Captain Gill, a fourth generation officer in the family, told NDTV in January.
Lieutenant Colonel Qureshi became the first woman officer to lead an Indian Army contingent to a multi-national military exercise. The officer was selected from a pool of peacekeeping trainers to lead the contingent.
The Supreme Court today said the Army could not discriminate between men and women, striking down blatant gender bias propagated for years. "To cast aspersions based on gender is an affront to their dignity and to the country. Time has come that women officers are not adjunct to their male counterparts," said the court.
It also rejected the centre's arguments of physiological limitations and "social norms" for denying permanent commission to women officers, calling it disturbing.