Male Troops Won’t Accept Women Commanders: Justifying Male Chauvinism, Govt tells SC

The Central govt has told the SC that women may not be suitable for command posts in the Army as male troops are not prepared to accept women officers.

New Delhi| In response to a plea, the Centre told the Supreme Court that Women are not suited for commanding roles in the Indian Army as male troops are not prepared to accept women officers.

A number of Female officers demanded commanding posts after getting a permanent commission. Their plea, however, has been opposed citing ‘greater family demands’ and the danger of them being taken in as prisoners of war.

“The composition of rank & file being male, and predominantly male drawn from rural background, with prevailing societal norms, the troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command”, the Centre said in an affidavit that essentially discriminates women in official policy.

It also mentioned that is difficult to treat male and female officers on a par in the matter of postings. This is due to their different physical standards and exposures. Besides that, they also have their reservations overexposing women officers to combat situations.

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Addressing a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi, senior advocate R. Balasubramanian and lawyer Neela Gokhale said that inducting women to command posts would change the dynamics of the armed forces. For instance, the “challenges of confinement, motherhood and childcare” are also an impediment to the same.
The female officers’ representatives, lawyers Meenakshi Lekhi and Aishwarya Bhatti, while opposing centre’s plea pointed out that many women had displayed exceptional bravery in adverse situations and cited the example of Minty Agarwal who, as flight controller, had guided Wing Commander Abhinandan when he shot down a Pakistani F-16. She was later awarded the Yudh Seva Medal. The advocates also cited the example of Mitali Madhumita, who was awarded the Sena Medal for her bravery when terrorists attacked the Indian embassy in Kabul.
The bench also hinted that it was incorrect to bar women from holding command posts. Instead, the army should allow them keeping in mind the organisational requirement and suitability. “A change of mindset is required with changing times. You need to give them the opportunity and they will serve to the best of their capabilities,” the bench said.
The court has reserved the order and asked all parties concerned to submit all notes and submissions by Friday.
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