In a landmark order that could allow greater inclusion of women in India’s armed forces, the Supreme Court, in an interim order, has said women can sit for the NDA (National Defence Academy) exam, which will next be held on September 5.
The top court slammed the government’s “mindset problem” when it comes to equal service opportunities for men and women in the country’s military, and warned “you better change”.
“This is a mindset problem. You (the government) better change it… don’t force us to pass orders,” the top court said, adding, “This policy decision is based on gender discrimination. We direct the respondents to take a constructive view of the matter in view of the judgement of this court.”
“The endeavour is to persuade the Army to do things itself… We would prefer if the Army did somethings itself, rather than us passing orders,” the top court added.
“Why are you continuing in this direction? Even after Justice Chandrachud’s judgement expanding the horizons and extending Permanent Commission in the Army to women? This is unfounded… We are finding it absurd!” a displeased Justice SK Kaul asked of the Additional Solicitor General.
The centre had argued that the government’s recruitment policy was not discriminatory and that there were a wide number of ways in which women could apply.
The Supreme Court was responding to a PIL that argued that the categorical exclusion of eligible female candidates from entering the National Defence Academy could not be constitutionally justified and was done entirely on the basis of their sex.
Men recruited through the NDA exam are presently granted permanent commission in India’s armed forces; women candidates, currently however, are recruited as Short Service Commission Officers before being considered for a permanent commission at a later stage of their careers.