On Wednesday, the Apex Court issued notice to the Central Govt on a plea seeking directions to allow eligible female candidates to join the National Defence Academy (NDA) & the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at par with the men.
A Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde sought a response from the Govt on the plea of advocate Kush Kalra who has contended that denial of opportunity to women candidates to enrol at the NDA is violative of Articles 14, 15, 16 & 19 of the Constitution.
The Bench also issued a notice in an impleadment application by a woman candidate Anita, who was denied an opportunity to enrol at the NDA. Anita said she had to give up her aspirations to join the Armed Forces.
The petition said that the eligible & willing female candidates being denied the opportunity of entry to the NDA “on the basis of their sex & thereby systematically & categorically excluding eligible female candidates” the opportunity to train at the premier joint training institute of the Indian Armed Forces which, at a later point of time, becomes a hurdle in the career advancement opportunities for female officers in the Armed Forces.
The plea was filed in light of the directions issued by the top court on the extension of Permanent Commission to Short Service Commissioned women officers of the Indian Army.
“After the passing of the judgment in the matter of Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs Babita Puniya by this Court, Permanent Commission has been extended to the Women Officers of the Army. However, there is still no mode of entry available to female candidates to join the Armed Forces as Permanent Commission Officers,” the plea said.
“In the present state of affairs, female candidates have to apply through the appropriate mode of entry into the Armed Forces as a Short Service Commissioned Officer & after serving for a certain period of time, have the option to opt for Permanent Commission,” it added.
The plea pointed out that granting Permanent Commission to the Short Service Commission Women Officers is only half a measure to restore equality of opportunity in the Army.
“The categorical exclusion of women to train at the NDA and get commissioned into the Armed Forces of the country as Permanent Commissioned Officers solely on the basis of their sex is a denial of the Fundamental Right to Practice any Profession & it is not justifiable within the contours of the Indian Constitution,” stated the plea.
The Govt allows unmarried male candidates having adequate 10+2 qualification to take the NDA and INA examinations, however, eligible & willing female candidates are not allowed to take the said examination on the sole ground of their sex & without any reasonable or justifiable explanations, the petitioner contended.