In a landmark judgement on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the women in Indian army will be able to command army units and also get permanent commission regardless of the years of service. The case was heard by Justices DY Chandrachud.and Ajay Rastogi. The order has to be implemented within three months, they ruled.
This means that women will be able to rise above the rank of Colonel with the power of commanding armies and make other independent decisions. However, they would not be appointed in the combat wings of the army like the infantry, artillery or armoured corps at the moment.
Earlier, only those women who had served less than 14 years under Short Service Commission (SSC) were eligible or appointment for a permanent commission role. The apex court noted that such a rule had a “fundamental fallacy” in it.
The Supreme Court also criticised the Centre for its stand on the women’s role in the army and the grounds on which it held women as “inferior” than men in holding command roles. The Centre had said earlier this month that women have physiological limitations which make them unfit to fight alongside their male counterparts. The government had also argued that most of the army personnel were from a rural background and hence cannot accept women in their command. However, the ruling said, “physiological features of women have no link to their rights. The mindset must change.”
The court noted that such arguments by the Centre violate the notion of equality as mentioned in Article 14 of the Constitution. “To cast aspersions on the ability of women and their role and achievements in Army is an insult not only to women but also to Indian Army,” the apex court said.
The Justices also mentioned that two things are required to rid any form of gender discrimination – administrative will and change in mindset. They slammed the Centre’s argument as, “disturbing”, “discriminating” against women and “stereotype”.