This Article is From Feb 01, 2022

Supreme Court Restrains Centre, Navy From Releasing Officers From Service

During the hearing, the bench observed that some of them (naval officers) are short of pensionable services by a year or two.

Supreme Court Restrains Centre, Navy From Releasing Officers From Service

Supreme Court also said that those who have been released from service can be considered for pension.

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Centre and Navy from releasing from services some officers (both male and female), who were not granted a permanent commission and sought reply from the Centre.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant asked Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and senior advocate R Balasubramanian to have a re-look into the grievances of a batch of naval officers, of which some of them have been released from services.

"Having regard to the fact that some of the officers are due for release on February 2, we direct that the officers who are already in service shall not be released pending further orders of this court", the bench directed.

During the hearing, the bench observed, "Some of them (naval officers) are short of pensionable services by a year or two. Those who have been released from service can be considered for pension".

The bench issued notice to the Centre and Navy and sought its response in four weeks on the batch of pleas filed by the short service commission naval officers, who were not considered for the Permanent Commission (PC).

Mr Jain, who accepted notice, said that he would have a re-look in each case and file a detailed counter-affidavit.

Senior advocates CU Singh, Huzefa Ahmadi, Meenakshi Arora, and other advocates appearing for the Naval officers contended that the vacancy position which has been computed by the naval authorities is not in accordance with the directions of this court in the final judgement in Commander Annie Nagaraja case (2020 verdict).

The lawyers submitted that the vacancies which were spread over 15 years have been substantially reduced as a result of which officers who would otherwise be eligible for the grant of the permanent commission have not been granted the PC.

They contended that the proceedings of the selection board were tendered before the Armed Force Tribunal (AFT) on the last date of hearing and the officers had no opportunity to controvert the contents.

The bench also directed that other matters which are pending before the AFT regarding the pre-2008 naval recruits shall be proceeded with by the tribunal and would not be affected by the present proceedings.

On March 17, 2020, the top court in a major verdict, had paved the way for granting permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Navy, saying a level playing field ensures that women have the opportunity to overcome "histories of discrimination".

The battle for gender equality is about confronting the battles of the mind and history is replete with examples where women have been denied their just entitlements under law and the right to fair and equal treatment in the workplace, the top court had said.

"A hundred and one excuses are no answer to the constitutional entitlement to dignity, which attaches to every individual irrespective of gender, to fair and equal conditions of work and to a level playing field," the top court had said, giving three months to the Centre to work out the modalities.

It had said the Centre's contention that certain sea-going duties are ill-suited to women officers is premised on sex stereotypes that male officers are more suited to certain duties by virtue of the physiological characteristics and to accept it would be to "approve the socially ascribed gender roles which a commitment to equal worth and dignity of every individual belies".

It had quashed the prospective effect of the Centre's controversial September 2008 policy, which restricted the grant of permanent commission to certain categories only.

"The stipulation in the policy letter dated September 6, 2008, making it prospective and restricting its application to specified cadres/branches of the Indian Navy shall not be enforced," the top court had said, while setting aside the implementation guidelines issued on December 3, 2008.