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Peculiarity of gender keeps married women away from JAG: Army

The Army said that married women "may seek maternity leave which will result in discontinuation of her training" at the Officers' Training Academy (OTA).

By: PTI | New Delhi |
September 26, 2016 7:55:56 pm

Married women are not eligible for recruitment in the Army’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) department due to peculiarity of gender which may not enable them to meet the rigorous training needed, Delhi High Court was informed on Monday. To justify the policy of not recruiting married women, the army said that both unmarried male and female candidates were prohibited from entering into a wedlock during the 10-month training period.

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In its short reply, the Army said that married women “may seek maternity leave which will result in discontinuation of her training” at the Officers’ Training Academy (OTA). It also said that after the 10 months training period, “it is open to the female candidates to get married.”

“It is therefore submitted that a female married candidate, due to the peculiarities of gender, may not be able to meet with the rigorous training which they may be subjected to during the period of their training at the OTA without sacrificing efficiency,” it said.

“Therefore, restriction on female candidates of marriage at the threshold stage is only to ensure that they are invariably in a physical condition which would enable them to participate in pre-commissioning training, and significantly this restriction applies to male candidates also in the sense that during pre-commissioning training they cannot get married if they were otherwise unmarried,” it said.

The Army was responding to the plea which has sought a direction to the Centre to recruit married women law graduates in JAG department like similarly-placed men.

“The answering respondent respectfully submit that keeping in regard the requirements of probationary service/training and its nature and the peculiarities, it cannot be said that the rules made therein discriminate against the married female candidates,” it told a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal.

The Army said the rules were not to create discriminatory regime vis-a-vis women but only to facilitate their seamless entry and absorption in the forces.

It said the rules apply equally to unmarried men and women, as they cannot marry during the time of training, and JAG was not the only department in which married female candidates are barred from applying.

The court had earlier sought the response of Ministry of Defence and the Army’s Directorate General of Recruiting on the plea which has contended that “at present, JAG Department of Indian Army recruits males (married/unmarried) and females (only unmarried) for serving in the Indian Army.”

“Due to this institutionalised discrimination, married female candidates who are law graduates are being deprived of their right to serve in JAG department of Indian Army,” the petition, filed by Kush Kalra, has claimed.

The petitioner has also alleged that “this discrimination on grounds of gender is violative of the fundamental right of equality before law, right not to be discriminated on the ground of sex, equality of opportunity in matters of public employment, fundamental right to practice any profession and occupation and human rights of the women.”

It has also sought that eligibility conditions prohibiting the entry of married female candidates in the JAG department be declared unconstitutional.

It has alleged “uneven distribution/allocation of seats for women” in recruitment into the JAG department as vacancies advertised for men were 10 and only four for women.

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