Published on: 22 November 2022 at 17:23 IST
Women Army officers moved the Supreme Court against the Central Government for deferring their promotions and allowing junior male officers to supersede them.
The plea mentions the plight of most of the women officers, who have been passed over for promotions and their accompanying benefits.
Through Senior Counsel V. Mohana, 34 female officers claimed that junior male officers had stolen a march on them due to obvious discrimination and the failure to implement the SC ruling granting them permanent commission and related benefits.
The SC’s verdict given in favour of women officers in 2020 and 2021, granting permanent commission to women officers “are being wrongly denied study leave and deputation… they are still being subjected to systematic, indirect and gender discrimination”
Senior Advocate Mohana argued that the Army had declared that a special selection board would be held for these women officers in response to the SC’s March 25, 2021 ruling, and that those with seniority between 1992 and 2007 would be considered, depending on their eligibility, for promotion to colonel.
Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli stated to Senior Advocate R. Balasubramanian that the special promotion board for male personnel seeking promotion to Colonel should not be held.
During his previous hearing, DY Chandrachud served notice on the central government and the Ministry of Defence. It was brought to the court’s attention that the order issued in September announced the constitution of a selection board to promote male officers, and these so-called male officers were all junior to the petitioners, the Senior Advocate Mohana told the court.
When the CJI learned of this, he directed Senior Advocate Balasubramanian to postpone the promotion procedure until the court heard the case and gave him two weeks to respond to the plea.
The petitioners also state in their plea that they all completed a two-month course called the Middle-Level Tactical Orientation Course (MLTOC), which was specifically designed for women following the Supreme Court’s 2020 and 2021 verdicts. The course takes the place of the 3-month long junior command course that male officers are required to undergo – to assume the rank of colonel.
Still, no selection committee was constituted for promotion, meanwhile, authorities have conducted two exclusive selection boards to promote the ‘Gentleman Officers’. Because of this, they are being forced to serve even under their male counterparts, who are in reality much junior.
In their petition, the petitioners also stated that “it is clear that even after the grant of permanent commission, the women officers are still subjected to systematic, indirect, and gender discrimination.”
The delayed implementation of the Delhi High Court verdict has harmed many qualified female officers, who have missed out on timely promotions.It has also affected women officers’ chances of going on study leave or deputation.
As per the Indian Army’s policy, an officer opting for study leave or deputation must have an equivalent number of years left in service. And this criteria now seems impossible for women who are close to retirement and are seeking a relaxation of this rule for them.