Exam Notification 2024

SC Grants Right Of Permanent Commission And Command in Indian Army to Women

Women have held an important position in every single field of work and has proved from time to time that they are not less than an men.

ENTRIES OF WOMEN

Every defence aspirant must have known about the two commissions to get entry as a commissioned officer in Indian Army. These are Short Service Commission i.e. SSC and Permanent Commission.

WHAT IS SHORT SERVICE COMMISSION

Short Service Commission (SSC) are for officers of Indian Navy, Indian Army and Indian Air Force who come into the services for a short period of time. Their length of service can range from 7 years to 14 years i.e. the initial engagement of 7 or 10 years can be extended up to a maximum of 14 years, after which they have to retire. The SSC officers can get their SSC converted into Permanent Commission (PC) through departmental examinations and interviews.

Post – Retirement Facilities For Short Service Commissioned Officers:

  1. Pension is paid to officers who serve for minimum 20 years in military and hence no SSC officer gets pension. All pension earning ex-servicemen were PC Officers.
  2. Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) membership is only for those who get pension, so SSC officers are not eligible.
  3. Canteen facility is also not available to SSC officers post-retirement (But during their service they can use canteen).
  4. Both PC and SSC Officers are paid gratuity.
  5. Both PC and SSC Officers can enrol in Pre-Release Courses (PRC).
  6. Both PC and SSC officers can prefix their last held rank to their name.

THE HISTORICAL JUDGEMENT BY SUPREME COURT

Till now every single entry related to women were SSC entry only. But Supreme Court has taken an important step towards granting women the right to serve in the military on equal terms with men, and has granted women the right to “permanent commission” (PC), and the right to command same as that of men.

This opens the doors for women to command military units, such as logistics, signals or engineer regiments, thus placing them in the position of leading bodies of 500-600 men in combat support duties.

The Court has rejected the argument that troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command of units” of Defence ministry’s (Indian) because they (the men) are “predominantly drawn from a rural background.”

The SC has given the judgement that “The submissions advanced in the note tendered to this Court are based on sex stereotypes premised on assumptions about socially ascribed roles of gender which discriminate against women,”

The judgment called this “a strong stereotype which assumes that domestic obligations rest solely on women.”

Justice DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi said that the “Physiological features of women have no link to their rights. This mindset must change”.

This petition was filed by a group of 332 women army officers, who joined the army from 1993 onwards. Their petition was partially accepted by the Delhi High Court in March 2010, a verdict that the defence ministry appealed against in the apex court.

Importantly, this Supreme Court ruling does not grant women the right to serve in combat units. However, it dismisses the government’s contention that women would be permitted to serve only in staff assignments, and not in command billets.

Women already serve in combat roles in the air force, which last year qualified its first women fighter pilots. Navy chief, Admiral Karambir Singh, pointed out in December that women naval officers already perform combat tasks, such as firing torpedoes and missiles at enemy warships while serving as observers and weapons systems officers on board maritime aircraft like the P-8I Poseidon. Women officers also serve on board naval warships in combat, albeit discharging non-combat roles.

However, there remains strong institutional resistance to allowing women into combat roles in the army, where the infantry, armoured corps, mechanised infantry, army aviation and artillery could often be involved in close-in, hand-to-hand fighting with the enemy.

At the time of filing the petition, woman officers were permitted PC in only two services – the Judge Advocate General’s Branch and the Army Education Corps. Women officers in all other units were entitled only to a “Short Service Commission” (SSC), which allows them to serve five years, extendable to 10 years; and then a maximum of 14 years. Earning a pension requires an officer to have served at least 20 years.

However, on February 25, 2019, the defence ministry permitted SSC women officers in another eight arms/services to be granted PC.

Women doctors and dentists have long been allowed permanent commissions, as are women in the Military Nursing Service (MNS). Women doctors and dentists comprise one-fifth of all medical corps officers, while the MNS is an all-woman service.

In contrast, just 3.8 per cent of the army’s 42,253 officers, 6 per cent of the navy’s 10,393 officers and 13.1 per cent of the air force’s 12,404 officers are women. Many young women say they are deterred from joining the military because of the SSC restrictions.

Now the Supreme Court ruling will allow women to opt for PRC at the time they join, without the periodic reviews and extensions inherent in the SSC route.

The judgment cited 11 examples of women officers who had performed acts of gallantry or exemplary service.

“After nearly three decades of meritorious services and numerous medals won by women officers, it is unfortunately still argued that they do not fit due to physiological features. I hail this judgement, which is perhaps the only way to bring much needed change,” says Wing Commander (Retired) Neelu Khatri, who was amongst the first batch of women officers commissioned in 1993-94.

In another measure that opens the door wider for women, the defence ministry has approved the admission of girl children in Sainik school, starting from academic session 2021-22. This decision follows the success of a pilot project in Sainik School Chhingchhip in Mizoram, which began two years ago.

ANALYSIS

Service Total officers held Women officers held Held
Army 42,253 1,561 3.8%
Navy 10,393 493 6.0%
Air Force 12,404 1,598 13.1%
Medical corps 4,500 975 21.6%
Dental corps 620 127 20.75%
Nursing service 3,730 3,730 100%

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