Updated: February 6, 2020 8:47:27 am
“If you have the will and the mindset, things can change,” the Supreme Court said on Wednesday on challenges to granting commanding roles to women in the Army.
Arguing a matter on granting permanent commission to women in the Army before a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi on Tuesday, the Centre’s counsel had sought to highlight the difficulties in giving “Command Appointments” for women.
One of the reasons cited was that given the current composition of the troops and their background, they are “not yet mentally schooled to accept WOs (Woman Officers) in command of units”.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta tried to clarify things on Wednesday and said the Centre was not in any way trying to advance the argument that male officers cannot take orders from women counterparts.
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Taking note, the bench wound up the hearing and reserved its order on the Centre’s appeal against the March 2010 order of Delhi High Court, directing the government to give permanent commission to women Army officers on Short Service Commission (SSC).
Appearing for women officers, advocate Meenakshi Lekhi pointed out that there was no question of lack of political will, as PM Narendra Modi has spoken in favour of granting permanent commission. She said it was mostly a lack of administrative will that was responsible for the situation.
Justice Chandrachud remarked, “I did not say political will. I said will — administrative will (is) also required.”
Senior advocate Aishwarya Bhati, also representing women officers, said the policy granting permanent commission only prospectively is arbitrary and discriminatory.
The Centre had in February 2019 drawn up a policy to grant permanent commission to women officers on SSC, but this was to apply only prospectively.
Women officers contended that this should be applied retrospectively too, following which the court asked the government whether it wished to alter its stand.
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