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Rajnath Singh welcomes SC decision on women Army officers

Rajnath Singh welcomes SC decision on women Army officers
February 18
10:18 2020

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court judgement granting permanent commission and command positions to women officers in the Army on par with male officers.

Around 1,500 women Army personnel are likely to benefit from the Supreme Court order, according to officials. “I wholeheartedly welcome the Supreme Court’s judgement on giving the women officers permanent commission in the armed forces. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has supported the idea of permanent commission for women and announced the change in policy in his Independence Day speech in 2018,” Singh tweeted.

In the judgement, the apex court directed that all serving women officers recruited under the short service commission (SSC) scheme will have to be considered for Permanent Commissions (PCs). The judgment has to be implemented within three months.

A group of 332 women Army officers, recruited under the Short Service Commission (SSC) since 1993, had approached the top court seeking a permanent commission. At present, the Army offers permanent commission to women officers in two branches — judge advocate general (JAG) and education. Under SSC, women officers are initially taken for a period of five years, which is extendable for up to 14 years. Permanent commissioning will allow them to serve until the age of retirement.

The Army recruits women officers under SSC for streams like air defence, engineering, signals and services and they can serve up to a maximum of 14 years. However, a sizeable number of women officers recruited under SSC scheme were allowed to serve beyond 14 years due to court cases as well as on the basis of their overall service records.

Last year, the defence ministry had taken an in-principle decision to allow permanent commissioning of women in streams like signals, engineering, army aviation, army air defence and electronics and mechanical. The Army planned to start opening permanent commission for women in all its branches from April, but it was strongly opposed to granting the benefit with retrospective effect.

It was decided that the SSC women officers will be considered for grant of permanent commission based on the availability of vacancies and subject to willingness, suitability, performance, medical fitness and competitive merit of the aspirants.

A senior military official said career progression of women officers in select ranks will be within the existing authorised strength of officers in the Indian Army. At present, 30 per cent of Army officials get command positions.

If we have to accommodate women in command positions, then their representation will be within the 30 per cent threshold, said a senior Army official.

“In 2019, the defence ministry granted permanent commission to women in all 10 branches of the Indian Army, including signal corps, intelligence, aviation, engineering, service corps and ordinance corps,” added Singh.

He said before 2016, women made up just 2.5 per cent of India’s armed forces, working in mainly non-combat roles. “As of January 2019, 3.89 per cent of the army officers comprised women, while 6.7 per cent of the navy and 13.28 per cent of the air force personnel respectively were women as of June 2019,” Singh said.

The three services have allowed permanent recruitment of women in select streams including medical, education, legal, signals, logistics and engineering. The women officers recruited through the SSC in the IAF have the option of seeking permanent commission in all streams except the flying branch. The Navy has allowed permanent commission of women in a host of departments such as logistics, naval designing, air traffic control, engineering and legal. PTI

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