Women Army officers eligible for permanent commission, rules SC

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News:The Supreme Court has upheld the Delhi High Court Judgement in 2010 and ruled that the Short Service Commission(SSC) women officers are eligible for the permanent commission and command posts in the Army irrespective of their years of service.

Facts:

Background:

  • The induction of women officers in the Army started in 1992.They were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams under the Women Special Entry Scheme(WSES).
  • In 2006,WSES was replaced by the Short Service Commission(SSC) scheme.Under the scheme, women were commissioned into the Army for a period of 10 years extendable up to 14 years.
  • However,women were restricted to roles in specified streams and could not opt for Permanent commission.On the other hand, male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service.
  • Thus,women officers were kept out of any command appointment and could not qualify for government pension which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer.
  • However,in 2019,the Government endorsed the permanent commission for SSC women officers in 10 streams.But said that this would be applied prospectively and the women officers would not be offered any command appointments and would serve only in staff posts.

About the Judgement:

  • The court has said that all serving women officers will be eligible for the Permanent Commission(PC).
  • The women officers will also be eligible for command posts in non-combat areas since an absolute bar on women seeking criteria or command appointments would not go with the guarantee of equality under Article 14.
  • However,the exclusion of women from combat operations was not examined by the court as it was not contested in the appeal.

Significance of the judgement:

  • The women officers will be eligible to occupy all the command appointments at par with male officers which would open avenues for further promotions to higher ranks for them.
  • A woman can rise to the rank of Colonel and above based on merit like their male counterparts.