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Rejection Of Permanent Commission Claims Of 72 Women Army Officers: Supreme Court Grants Time To Centre And The Army To Resolve The Issue

Mehal Jain
15 Oct 2021 4:09 AM GMT
Rejection Of Permanent Commission Claims Of 72 Women Army Officers: Supreme Court Grants Time To Centre And The Army To Resolve The Issue
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The Supreme Court on Friday allowed time until October 22 to the Centre and the Indian Army to resolve the issue of grant of Permanent Commission to those women Short Service Commission officers against whom there is no problem of disciplinary or vigilance clearance. Posting the matter for October 22, the Court required ASG Sanjay Jain, for the Union, and Senior Advocate R....

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The Supreme Court on Friday allowed time until October 22 to the Centre and the Indian Army to resolve the issue of grant of Permanent Commission to those women Short Service Commission officers against whom there is no problem of disciplinary or vigilance clearance. 

Posting the matter for October 22, the Court required ASG Sanjay Jain, for the Union, and Senior Advocate R. Balasubramanian, for the Indian army, to personally look into the individual cases in view of its March judgment that if the women officers meet the cut-off of 60% marks and clear the medical fitness criteria and have received vigilance and disciplinary clearances, they shall be entitled to PC.

The bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and B. V. Nagarathna was hearing the contempt petition at the behest of 72 women officers of the Indian army who have moved the Court claiming that they have been denied Permanent Commission in violation of the March judgment of the Court. In March, another bench headed by Justice Chandrachud had held that all women officers who have satisfied the 60% cut-off are entitled to PC subject to satisfaction of medical criteria as specified and satisfaction of vigilance and disciplinary clearance.
It is the contention of the petitioners, that by the results declassified in September this year, it has been revealed that they have been denied PC despite securing above 60%, being medically fit and having vigilance clearance, on account of additional criteria of "discipline, disobedience of orders, lapses in government procurement, forging medical documents, poor work ethics, lack of professionalism, un-officer like conduct, poor performance in courses etc".
It has been urged on behalf of the petitioners that even after the judgment of March, the 72 petitioners have been declared unfit and incompetent for PC and their claim rejected based on a September 2020 assessment by the Selection Board that had allegedly found charges on the above grounds against the petitioners. It has been pointed out that the Indian Army had sought a clarification from the Supreme Court on the grant of PC to women SSC officers who have allegedly failed this one criterion for this, asking whether the ruling of March meant PC had to be granted irrespective of the criteria being met. The petitioners' senior advocates have submitted that the Supreme Court had in August dismissed the said Miscellaneous Application for clarification, with Justice Chandrachud telling the Centre, "You implement the judgment as it stands. This is an attempt on the part of your client to go around the judgment"
On Friday, Justice Chandrachud told ASG Sanjay Jain, for the Union, and Senior Advocate R. Balasubramanian, for the Indian army, "3 things appear to us from you clarification application- that all these women have secured more than 60%, that there is no health problem and that there is no problem of vigilance. Our direction in the March judgment was that all women officers who meet the cut-off of 60% marks as per the assessment of the September, 2020 SB 5 (Special No. 5 Selection Board) 'shall' be entitled to the grant of PC subject to the medical criteria specified in General Instructions of August 1, 2020, and receiving disciplinary and vigilance clearance. Now you cannot say that the standard is 60% plus 'fitness'! 60% is fitness!"
The ASG responded that when the Special No. 5 Selection Board had considered the petitioners, the records of each of these 72 were examined and the petitioners have been found "unfit" on account of "internal discipline of the military as an organisation".
"No, that cannot be! Please get your house in order!", told Justice Chandrachud.
"You cannot have supervening and additional factors over and above the judgment of this court! You wanted it in your clarification application but did not get it when this court dismissed the application", added Justice Nagarathna.
On Friday, responding to Justice Nagarathna, the ASG submitted, "The clarification application was dismissed as non-maintainable, without going into the merits. There is nothing above the Supreme Court judgment. The judgment was in consonance with the army policies. Here, there are serious objections of integrity and other aspects (as regards the petitioners). We have quoted the army policy". He conceded that while all of the petitioners have got 60% marks, they were found unfit in terms of their conduct by the Selection Board itself on account of these factors.
"If there is a problem with the vigilance clearance, exclude the concerned officer! If there are disciplinary proceedings, by all means, exclude them! We have also said that PC will be granted subject to vigilance and disciplinary clearances. We will not interfere if there are no clearances. We would never come in the way! We are aware that we are dealing with the Indian Army. We know how important the clearances are. All of us are soldiers of the nations…But this cannot be a matter of prejudice. For the others, there must be orders granting PC", noted Justice Chandrachud.
"We respect where you are coming from. We do not want to scrutinise each petitioner's file. But if they have got 60%, then how have they been denied PC? Both of you, Mr. Jain and Col. Balasubramanian, please personally look into the issue and try to resolve it in view of our judgment. We trust you as advocates, and we are entrusting you the task of this exercise as officers of the court. Forget contempt, you are an extended arm of the court. Do this by October 22", Justice Chandrachud told.
Case Title: Nilam Gorwade & Ors v. Manoj Mukund Naravane & Ors






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