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SC Slams Gender Stereotypes, Orders Permanent Commission For Women Army Officers

The Central govt had 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| The Top Court today said women officers in the Army can get command positions on par with male officers, asserting that the government’s arguments against it were “discriminatory”, “disturbing,” and based on gender stereotype.

To put simply, a female can rise to the rank of Colonel and higher based on merit, like their male counterparts.

Pulling up the Centre for the lack of respect shown to women officers in the Army, it said its order must be implemented within three months.

It also rejected the Centre’s views on physiological features of women and social norms for denying women permanent commission and said such arguments are against the concept of equality.

“We see no reason not to grant permanent commission to those who had have more than 14 years in service,” the apex court said, commenting that there is a “fundamental fallacy” in the centre’s policy of considering only females with less than 14 years for permanent commission. The policy must apply equally to all female officers, regardless of years of service, the court said.

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“Despite policy decision, the Centre submitted a note to the Supreme Court which perpetuates sex stereotypes. Arguments by the Centre founded on the physical strength of male and female and grounds of motherhood, family etc violate equality,” said the top court.

The bench held that all terms of appointments of female officers in the Army shall henceforth be the same as their male counterparts. It added that female officers shall be entitled to all consequential benefits as per the order. These will also include those who have retired.

India began recruiting women to non-medical positions in the armed forces in 1992, yet only 2.5 per cent of its more than one million personnel are women— most of them as administrators, intelligence officers, doctors, nurses or dentists.

Most countries hire women in various roles in their armed forces but only a few, including Australia, Germany, Israel and the United States, have permitted them to take on fighting, or combat, roles.

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