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"We Are Conscious That Reforms Cannot Happen In A Day, But We Want Progress": Supreme Court On Gender Equality In NDA Selection

Mehal Jain
8 Sep 2021 8:37 AM GMT
We Are Conscious That Reforms Cannot Happen In A Day, But We Want Progress: Supreme Court On Gender Equality In NDA Selection
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"If you had told this to us at the previous hearing, we would not have done anything at all. We are conscious of the complexity of the armed services", the court remarked.

The Centre on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that a decision has been taken at the highest level of the defence forces and the government that girls will be inducted for permanent commission through the National Defence Academy.The bench of Justices S. K. Kaul and M.M Sundresh was hearing a plea challenging the policy of the Centre in not permitting female candidates to appear for...

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The Centre on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that a decision has been taken at the highest level of the defence forces and the government that girls will be inducted for permanent commission through the National Defence Academy.

The bench of Justices S. K. Kaul and M.M Sundresh was hearing a plea challenging the policy of the Centre in not permitting female candidates to appear for the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination and train at the National Defence Academy. The petition was filed in February and the notice was issued on March 10.
"We have received the counter-affidavit from the Union of India yesterday. In the counter affidavit, what they say is that it is purely a policy decision and should not be interfered with by the court and that because girls are not allowed to enter into NDA does not mean there is any difficulty in their progression or in their career", this was the case of the petitioner the last occasion on August 18.
The Supreme Court had in August passed an interim order allowing women to take part in the NDA examination scheduled for September 5, adding that admission in the programme would be subject to the final result of the petitions before it. The UPSC was also directed to take out a suitable corrigendum in view of the aforesaid order and "give due publicity so that intent of the order is translated into effect".
"I have a rather delightful piece of news to share with your lordships. Your lordships nudging, persuading and pushing has made a difference. The decision has been taken at the highest level of the forces – with all the three chiefs – and the government that girls will be inducted for PC through the NDA. This decision was taken late last evening. Please permit us time to place this on record by way of affidavit", ASG Aishwarya Bhati told the bench on Wednesday.
She, however, informed that a decision was taken by the UPSC to postpone the exam scheduled for September to November and requested that the court please consider directing the status quo for this exam. "This will need policy changes, procedure, training infrastructure, billets etc", she advanced.
At this Justice Kaul remarked,
"We were only nudging the authorities to do certain things themselves. After all, we know that they are best suited to evolve such changes. The court steps in when nothing has happened. It is not a very happy situation for us either. The armed forces are the most respected in the country. But sometimes their resistance cannot be dealt with well. They need to do more towards gender equality. A dynamic approach needs to be adopted. Wealso wish to compliment you for presenting the perfect perspective of the court to them"
"The thought process was there even at the previous hearing but it was at the seeding stage", told ASG Bhati.
"If you had told this to us at the previous hearing, we would not have done anything at all. We are conscious of the complexity of the armed services- where induction can take place, whether it can take place or not, in what time it can take place, we are not oblivious to this. We only wanted to push you."
As regards the status quo, the bench said,
"Reforms cannot happen in one day, we are conscious of that. We only want progress to be made. We will see depending on what you are doing now, what is the proposal for the future, what still remains to be examined, what areas you are exploring. We will see if more nudging is required or we are comfortable with your pace. But we must have some timelines. We do hope that defence forces value the important role women are performing. You may go at a comfortable pace, but redressal must take place!"
In its order, the bench recorded as follows,
"We are glad to note that the armed forces have taken the decision for induction of females into the NDA and other issues are being or will be examined. ASG Aishwarya Bhati seeks time to place the development or the future plan before us. We complement the ASG for the proactive role in persuading the armed forces in taking an approach which is in furtherance of gender equality. We hold over the matter for two weeks. The Armed Forces play an important role in the system, for forming an immensely essential function. We would not easily interfere in their roles and would rather want them to take a proactive approach towards gender equality, instead of the court stepping in."

Case Title: Kush Kalra v. Union of India and others

Also Read: [BREAKING] Decision Taken To Allow Women In National Defence Academy: Centre Tells Supreme Court

Click Here To Read/ Download Order



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