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Women in the Army Finally Granted Permanent Commission

Aishwarya Sharma

13th September 2020

Ecstatic army officers celebrate the Supreme Court verdict (Source: The Economic Times)

Citizens across the country are celebrating the historic verdict passed by the Supreme Court on 23rd July 2020, which permits women to perform commanding roles in the Indian Army by granting them a permanent commission.

In 1992, the Indian Armed Forces started inducting women officers for the Short Service Commission (SSC), which meant that women officers could serve only for five years. Prior to this, they served only in the medical corps. It was in 2006 that the recruiting process was shifted to the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES), which had a shorter pre-commission training period than the male officers.

Meanwhile, the SSC was limited to five years of service and that only changed after a policy decision in 2006. This decision allowed women to serve a maximum period of 14 years. However, they could only join through the SSC.

Later in 2008, women officers in the Army Education Corps and Judge Advocate General were the only ones who granted permanent commission. This decision was once again revisited in 2020 by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Until now, SSC male officers had the option of applying for permanent commission after fourteen years of service. Adversely, their female counterparts were denied this opportunity and hence were not eligible for a pension which was applicable only after twenty years of service.

The legal battle demanding permanent commission for all women officers began in 2003 when the first Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Delhi High Court. Since then, there have been multiple petitions further pushing for revisions.

A 2010 High Court verdict that denied permanent commission was further appealed to the Supreme Court by the government. In its latest ruling, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Short Service Commission women officers in the Indian Army being granted permanent commission.

The Hindu reports that following the Supreme Court verdict, the induction process for SSC women officers to apply for the permanent commission has been set in motion. The procedure is said to begin once officers have presented their options and completed the paperwork.

The Army said that the order would apply to women serving in all eight remaining streams of the Army: The Army Air Defence (AAD), Signals, Army Aviation, Army Service Corps (ASC), Engineers, Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), and Intelligence Corps.

(Sources: The Hindu, The Indian Express, Hindustan Times)

Edited by Nayana Dhanya

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