PLACING ON record its decision to induct women in the armed forces through the National Defence Academy (NDA), the Defence Ministry has told Supreme Court that the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will notify the entrance exam for this in May 2022 by which time the necessary mechanism for their induction will also be put in place.
“…the Government of India, in line with its commitment, hereby places on record its clear and categorical stand that the women candidates shall be considered for entry in the three defence services, in the existing streams, through the National Defence Academy,” the ministry said in an affidavit filed in the court.
It added, “…in order to execute the aforesaid intent of the Government and the compliance of interim order dated 18 Aug 2021 of the Hob’ble Court in letter and spirit, it is most humbly stated at the outset that entrance examination for entry into NDA are held twice in a year and Government proposes to have the necessary mechanism in place by May 2022, i.e. the time by which UPSC is required to publish the first notification of the year 2022, for entrance examination for entry to NDA”.
The government said that keeping the timelines in mind, meticulous planning and preparation is called for to ensure smooth induction and training of women candidates.
On the preparations required for this, it pointed to the medical standards that candidates have to meet and said that while the medical standards of male candidates are in place, that of women candidates “are in the process of formulation”. It said that “while the education curriculum is well set, all the rest of aspects of the training are required to be formulated separately for the women candidates”.
There is also the need to upgrade infrastructure depending on the intake strength of the women candidates, it said. Elaborating, it said there has to be separate living areas for the women cadets. “That all cadets in the NDA are accommodated in Cabins which are housed in Squadron Buildings…The existing sanitation/bathroom cubicles for women candidates will fall short of the requirements and shall require reconstruction/modification to maintain privacy,” it said.
The ministry pointed out that “with respect to the training capacity and other arrangements, various aspects are being put to place, inter-alia, security and privacy arrangements, physical segregation of living quarters and associated physical and electronic surveillance measures, i.e. women orderlies, women duty officers and women instructors etc”.
“Further, additional administrative and miscellaneous requirements in terms of gender specific kitting, ancillary requirements etc., shall also have to be worked out and executed simultaneously,” it said. “Furthermore, gynaecologists, sports medicine specialists, counsellors, nursing staff and lady attendants will also be required to be posted/augmented at Military Hospital, Khadakwasla. The capacity of officers Family Ward (medical facility) would also need to be increased for which additional projects shall have to be planned and executed.”
The affidavit said that for this, the Defence Services has constituted a Study Group comprising experts “to expeditiously formulate the comprehensive curriculum for women candidates at NDA and a Board of Officers has been convened to give a holistic and futuristic proposal for training of women cadets at NDA incorporating all relevant aspects”.
It stated that this “shall necessarily entail reasonable time”.
The affidavit was filed in response to a plea which sought the court’s intervention to allow eligible women candidates to appear for the NDA examinations conducted by the UPSC. On September 8, the Centre had informed the court that it had decided to induct women for permanent commission in the armed forces through the NDA.
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