- Men and women officers should be treated equally, the court said
- Denying permanent commission serious miscarriage of justice, top court
- Women officers can work in warships, government told Supreme Court
Women officers can sail with the same efficiency as male officers, the Supreme Court said on Monday as it cleared permanent commission for women in the Indian Navy, maintaining that men and women officers should be treated equally.
"They can sail with same efficiency as male officers," the top court said, cancelling the prospective effect of a policy barring women officers inducted before 2008 from being granted permanent commission in the navy.
Noting that "there can't be 101 excuses for not granting gender equality in armed forces", the top court stressed on the need for a level-playing field.
The government has been asked to implement permanent commission for women in the navy within three months. The government told the court that women officers can work in warships.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said denying permanent commission to women officers who have served the nation would result in serious miscarriage of justice.
It said there cannot be gender discrimination in granting permanent commission to women officers in the navy after the statutory bar was lifted by the centre to allow entry of women.
"Once statutory bar was lifted to allow entry of women officers then male and female officers are to be treated equally in granting permanent commission," the court said.
In the Indian Air Force, women serve as fighter pilots.
The first naval woman pilot - Sub-Lieutenant Shivangi - joined the operational duties at the Kochi naval base on December 2 last year. She has been flying the Dornier surveillance aircraft of the Indian Navy. The officer was born in Bihar's Muzaffarpur.
In August, Indian Air Force's Wing Commander S Dhami become the first woman officer in the country to become the Flight Commander of a flying unit. Wing Commander Dhami took over as Flight Commander of a Chetak helicopter unit at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad near Delhi.