The Indian Army was ordered by the Supreme Court on Monday to reinstate 12 Women Short Service Commission Officers (WSSCO) who were removed after being declared ineligible for permanent commission.
In order to secure their financial and other military advantages, the court ruled them eligible for permanent commission (PC) and commanded the army to treat them as if they had been in continuous duty without interruption. In addition, the court determined that three WSSCOs who had not yet been freed were eligible for PC.
With this decision, the number of WSSCOs who chose for PC and have either gotten or are entitled to receive it has increased to 502 from the 615 women officers considered for PC under a March 25 ruling by the Supreme Court.
While hearing the WSSCOs' case, a bench of justices Dhananajya Y Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said, “those WSSCOs released during the pendency of these proceedings shall be deemed to have continued without any break and will be entitled to grant of PC.” The army and the Centre, nudged by the court, agreed to reconsider objections with regard to 12 WSSCOs who were released from the army and three who were still serving, making the court's judgement easier.
The court further stated that with this judgement, the women officers' cases before the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) are now closed.
The bench praised the army for taking a fair stand, “there has been a complete change of mindset at the top as we are now seeing women being provided leadership roles. We are heralding a new era in the armed forces.”
V Mohana, a senior advocate supporting some of the female officers, remarked, “the order of the court will go a long way in boosting the morale of the women officers. After being denied PC, the humiliation they had to undergo was enormous.”
Huzefa Ahmadi, a senior advocate, expressed her support, “there has been a paradigm shift in the role of women in the armed forces. This year will be remembered for this change.”
The court also appreciated the efforts of additional solicitor general (ASG) Sanjay Jain, who represented the Centre, and senior advocate R Balasubramanian, who represented the army, and who met with the army's top brass and informed the court that the decision to reinstate the WSSCOs had the approval of the chief of army staff (COAS).
The March 25 Supreme Court decision established common standards for granting PC to WSSCOs in comparison to their male counterparts. According to the Court, any WSSCO who received 60% on merit and is medically fit shall be given PC, pending disciplinary and vigilance clearance.