Updated: November 13, 2021 3:58:05 am
THE ARMY on Friday agreed to grant permanent commission to 11 women Short Service Commission (SSC) officers, after the court warned that it would initiate contempt proceedings.
“The Army may be supreme in its authority, but this constitutional court is also supreme in its jurisdiction. We gave you a very long rope,” Justice D Y Chandrachud, heading a two-judge bench, said.
The bench, which included Justice A S Bopanna, was hearing a plea filed by some women officers, seeking contempt action against the Army for not granting them permanent commission even after the court’s ruling on March 25 this year. In March, the court had directed the Army to grant permanent commission to women SSC officers, subject to their obtaining 60 per cent marks in the assessment subjects, being found medical fit, and having received disciplinary and vigilance clearances.
The Army had initially said that of the 36 women SSC officers who had filed the contempt petition, it had granted permanent commission to 22 officers, while the remaining 14 were not considered fit, including three on medical grounds.
The bench asked Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and senior advocate R Balasubramanian, appearing for the Army, whether those who were left out (barring the three on medical grounds) had met the rest of the criteria. Jain said the 11 officers had obtained over 60 per cent marks and had all the disciplinary and vigilance clearances, but they had adverse remarks and their statutory and non-statutory complaints were pending.
“If they have met all the criteria set out in our judgment, then why have you not granted them permanent commission,” the bench said.
Jain sought time to confer with the authorities. When the hearing resumed, Jain said: “We accept the judgment to be complied as per para 120 (of the judgment) and all women officers covered under 120 and who have not been granted permanent commission so far, subject to the limitations in 120, will be granted permanent commission. All women SSC officers who are not before the court but are meeting criteria of para 120 will be granted permanent commission subject to their willingness.” Para 120 of the judgment pertains to the criteria for permanent commission.
The bench recorded the ASG’s submission in its order. “After discussion with the Army authorities, the ASG has apprised the court that the judgment… will be implemented duly observing the directions in para 120 in respect of those officers left out so far from the grant of permanent commission,” it said.
In a landmark ruling in February 2020, the court had directed the government to ensure that women SSC officers are granted permanent commission in the Army, including command postings. Those who were not granted this in the selection process that ensued had approached the apex court, pointing out flaws in the criteria adopted by the Army, following which the court announced its verdict on March 25 this year.
(With PTI inputs)
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