In equality push, SC allows women to take NDA exam | India News

NEW DELHI: After ending gender discrimination in matters of permanent commission and command posting for women officers in defence forces, the Supreme Court seems keen on ensuring gender equality in government-run military colleges and schools. In an interim order on Wednesday, the court directed that women be allowed to take the entrance examination for National Defence Academy, which has been a male bastion since its inception.
The court also pulled up the Centre for “not adopting” a gender-neutral policy and continuing with “discrimination” despite disapproval by the court, which had passed strong observations while granting permanent commission for women officers. The SC said the Centre must take a constructive view and change its policy which perpetuates such “discrimination”.
Would’ve been better if govt took steps itself: SC
The bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy said it would have been better if the government itself took the decision instead of the court directing it to change the policy.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati told the bench that the decision to recruit women in services is a matter of policy and there are other ways through which women candidates are recruited. “Women are being granted equal opportunity in the armed forces in the avenues that have been opened up for employment of women. There is no violation of any fundamental right merely on account of the mode of entries available to men and women to join the armed forces,” the Centre said.
The bench, however, was not satisfied and told the Centre. “Why are you continuing in this direction? Even after Justice Chandrachud’s judgment expanding the horizons and extending permanent commission in the Army to women, This is unfounded now. We are finding it absurd.”
Justice Kaul, who had first passed the verdict as a Delhi HC judge allowing permanent commission for women officers, which was later upheld by the SC, said he had got the impression that the Army was not willing to take a decision itself voluntarily and needed the court’s direction. He said if that is the case, the court will pass an order on this issue as well.
The court then went ahead to pass an interim order and said, “In view of the impending examination and on hearing counsel for parties, we consider it appropriate to issue interim direction permitting women candidates to take part in the examination scheduled for September 5, subject to further orders from this court.”
Senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma and lawyer Mohit Paul, appearing for petitioner Kush Kalra, told the bench that barring women from getting enrolled and trained in NDA was violative of the fundamental rights of all those women who want to join NDA.
The court then directed the UPSC to take out the necessary corrigendum in view of the interim orders and give it wide publicity “so that the intent of the order is translated into benefit at the ground level”.
The bench said it will also consider petition alleging gender discrimination in getting admission in Sainik Schools and Rashtriya Indian Military College and posted the hearing for September
8. “The counter affidavit filed by the respondent seeks broadly to suggest that insofar as Sainik Schools are concerned, the process of admitting girls has already started and it will be further expanded. As far as Rashtriya Indian Military College is concerned, it is stated that it is a 99-year old institution which will complete 100 years next year. The question is whether it completes its 100 years with gender neutrality or not!” the bench said.
Advocate Kailas Udhavrao More, who filed the petition on allowing entry of girls in RIMC, contended that every girl child has the right to take education in schools and colleges run under the ministry of defence.
Times View: Ideally, the move should have come from the Services themselves. Nonetheless, this is a welcome step by the apex court which is in tune with modern and forward-thinking states across the world.

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