A PIL has been filed in the High Court of Delhi, demanding that eligibility conditions stipulated by the Judge Advocate General Department of the Indian Army, prohibiting entry of unmarried female candidates in the JAG department, be declared as unconstitutional.
The petition, filed by 28 year old Mr. Kush Kalra, contends, “The present condition of recruitment to Indian Army, judge Advocate general department ends up victimizing its subject (women). In that regard the interference prescribed by state for pursuing the ends of protection should be proportionate to the legitimate aims. The standard for judging the proportionality should be a standard capable of being called reasonable in a modern democratic society. Instead of putting curbs on women's freedom, empowerment would be a more tenable and socially wise approach. This empowerment should reflect in the law enforcement strategies of the state as well as law modeling done in this behalf.”
Currently, Judge Advocate General Department of Indian Army (IA) recruits only unmarried females for serving the Indian Army, while married males are eligible for recruitment. The petition contends that this “institutionalized discrimination” deprives married female law graduates of their right to serve in Judge Advocate General Department of Indian Army.
The discrimination on grounds of gender is argued to be violative of the Fundamental Right of equality before Law (Art 14), Right not to be discriminated on the ground of sex (Art 15), equality of opportunity in the matters of public employment (Art 16), and fundamental right to practice any profession and occupation and human rights of the women (Art 19 1 (g)).
Determined to raise his voice against the discrimination, Mr. Kalra had earlier filed an RTI application as well, demanding among other things, the purpose that was served by taking only unmarried candidates, as also whether both male and female applicants are bound to remain unmarried if they wish to join JAG.
The CPIO of Indian Army had however denied the information on the ground that the information sought was vague. This was challenged before the FAA, which directed that the information be provided to Mr. Kalra. The response received thereafter had clarified that candidates for JAG entry can marry after the completion of training.
The petition further points out that the Judge Advocate General Recruitment of (JAG Entry Scheme 17th Course OCT, 2016) mentions that vacancies for Men in JAG are 10 and for women only 4 vacancies are advertised from last 5 years. Apart from various judicial pronouncements, it relies on several international covenants and treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and ILO: Maternity Protection Convention 2000.
Image from here.
Read the petition here.