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After Supreme Court Warns Of Contempt, Indian Army Undertakes To Grant Permanent Commission To Eligible Women Officers

Mehal Jain
12 Nov 2021 9:03 AM GMT
After Supreme Court Warns Of Contempt, Indian Army Undertakes To Grant Permanent Commission To Eligible Women Officers
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"The Army may be supreme in its authority by this constitutional court is also supreme in its jurisdiction", the bench said.

After the Supreme Court warned that it will hold the Indian Army officials in contempt of court, the Army undertook that it will implement grant Permanent Commission to Women Short Service Commission Officers in terms of the judgment in the Lt Col Nitisha case.A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was hearing a contempt petition moved by 11 officers alleging...

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After the Supreme Court warned that it will hold the Indian Army officials in contempt of court, the Army undertook that it will implement grant Permanent Commission to Women Short Service Commission Officers in terms of the judgment in the Lt Col Nitisha case.

A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was hearing a contempt petition moved by 11 officers alleging Army's non-compliance of the directions issued by the Court. The applicants complained that they were denied PC despite fulfilling the eligibility criteria set out by the Court in paragraph 120 of the judgment in Lt Col Nitisha case.

During the forenoon hearing session, the bench said that it appeared that the directions are not complied and warned that it will hold the Army and the Defence Ministry in contempt.

"The army might be supreme in its authority but the constitutional court is supreme in its jurisdiction", Justice Chandrahcud remarked.

"We are holding the army guilty of contempt. We are putting you on guard and we are recording a finding on this. The Army may be supreme in its authority by this constitutional court is also supreme in its jurisdiction. We gave you a very long rope. The reason we had asked you to submit an affidavit that PC has not been denied to any officer on grounds of any consideration other than what we had said in our judgment was to put on notice", the judge observed.

At this point, Additional Solicitor General of India Sanjay Jain sought for time to get instructions and requested the matter be called at 2 PM.

When the matter was taken again at 2 PM, ASG Sanjay Jain informed the court that after discussion with army authorities, that the judgment in Nitisha's case will be duly implemented by observing the directions in para 120, and that all WSSCOs covered under para 120, who have not been granted PC so far, will be granted PC subject to limitations in paragraph 120 of the judgment. The ASG said that the necessary orders in this regard will be passed with respect to the eleven applicants before the Court within 10 days, and within 3 weeks with respect to the other officers.

The ASG clarified that not just the 11 WSSCOs who have moved the court in contempt as a part of 72 and who were not granted PC till date, but even those officers who are not before the court but are meeting the criteria of para 120 will be granted PC, subject to their willingness.

The bench then passed an order recording the submissions made by the ASG.

By way of abundant caution, the bench clarified that those officers who have disciplinary and vigilance clearence will be eligible to grant of PC subject to their meeting of other conditions specified in para 120

In case any officers are not found suitable for PC, a reasoned order will be communicated to them specifying the reason for rejection, the bench added.

With the above directions, the bench disposed of the contempt petitions.

The judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in the Lt Col Nitisha versus Union of India on March 25 this year had invalidated certain terms in the evaluation criteria adopted by the Indian Army for grant of PC to women officers as "arbitrary and irrational". The Court held that the evaluation criteria perpetuated gender stereotypes based on patriarchal notions and amounted to "systemic discrimination".

The judgment came in a batch of petitions filed by women officers challenging the rejection of their applications seeking permanent commission in Indian Army. They contended that the Army denied them permanent commission, despite the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Babita Puniya case, by applying an arbitrary threshold for medical fitness and by not considering their credentials beyond the 5th or 10th year of services.

Case Title : Nilam Gorwade and others versus Manoj Mukund Naravane and others Diary No. 19670-2021 and connected cases.

Click Here To Read/Download The Order


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