The Supreme Court has observed that the Union of India has failed to comply with the directions issued by it in its 16th March judgment holding that serving women Short Service Commission Officers in Indian Navy were entitled to Permanent Commission at par with their male counterparts.
The bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph has directed that the petitioner(s) who are serving Women SSC Officers shall not be discontinued from service pending consideration of their requests for the grant of Permanent Commission.
Earlier, the Armed Forces Tribunal and later the Delhi High Court had denied the officers' plea seeking interim relief of restraining the Indian Navy from releasing the petitioners from service till the claim of each of the petitioners for grant of permanent commission is considered by the Navy on merits. Before the Tribunal and the High Court they had contended that scheduled date of completion of SSC is 6th August, 2020 and the release orders to the said effect were issued more than one year prior thereto. They had sought interim orders to protect their status as in-service candidates, till the date of decision/intimation of outcome of consideration for permanent commission by the Indian Navy, of the petitioners, for permanent commission.
Assailing these orders before the Apex Court, the officers contended that the Union of India was required to implement the decision of the Supreme court dated 17 2 March 2020 for the grant of Permanent Commission within a period of three months, but this exercise has not been initiated (beyond inviting applications) and completed. Responding to this plea, the ASG, on behalf of the Union of India submitted that an application for extension of time has been filed in view of the intervening pandemic and the lock down which was occasioned, as a consequence. The bench observed:
"Prima facie, the Union of India having failed to comply with the directions contained in the judgment of this Court dated 17 March 2020 which mandated consideration for the grant of Permanent Commission within three months, it would be unfair to discharge the Short Service Commissioned officers in the meantime, pending consideration."
The bench the proceeded to stay the orders of the High Court and the Tribunal and posted the Special Leave Petitions on 20 August 2020.
Last month, the Central Government had issued formal sanction letter for grant of Permanent Commission to women officers in Indian Army. The order specified grant of Permanent Commission to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) women officers in all ten streams of Indian Army in addition to the existing streams of Judge and Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC). This move was in compliance of 17th February judgment of the Supreme Court which directed that Permanent Commission should be granted to women in the Army, regardless of their service, in all the ten streams where the Union Government had already taken a decision to grant Short Service Commission to women.
Case name: RUPALI ROHATGI vs. UNION OF INDIA
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