The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that women Short Service Commission Officers (SSCOs) of the Indian Air Force (IAF), who did not move the Court challenging non-consideration for Permanent Commission (PC) during their tenure, cannot be reinstated but could be granted one time pensionary benefits [Wing Commander AU Tayabba vs Union of India].
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, and Justices Hima Kohli and JB Pardiwalla clarified that the officers would not be eligible for arrears of salary but for arrears of pension from the date of release from service.
“All the women SSCOs in the present batch of cases shall be considered for grant of one time pensionary benefits. Case would be under the human resources policy of November, 2010. The officers found eligible for pensionary benefits shall not be eligible for arrears of salary but arrears of pension from the date of release from service,” the Court said.
The Court noted that the officers had put in long years of service for the IAF and had excellent track records.
In view of the same, it observed that the appellants who moved Delhi High Court soon after the 2010 judgment and also soon after their release should not be denied the benefit emanating from the judgment.
However, keeping in mind that they were released between 2006 and 2009, the Court ruled that their reinstatement was not viable.
“They have put in long years of service for the IAF. IAF authorities submitted that officers had an excellent track record. In this backdrop we are of the view that this batch of officers who moved HC soon after the 2010 judgment and soon after their release should not be denied benefit which emanates from the judgment and at same time court cannot be oblivious that they were released from 2006 to 2009 and this reinstatement would not be viable keeping in mind armed force exigencies but we are of the view they officers should be considered for pensionary benefits and we direct so under Article 142. Pension would be in accordance with human resource policy,” the Court said.
The appeals were filed by former women SSCOs of the IAF who had sought the benefit of Delhi High Court’s Babita Poonia judgment of 2010, which directed that women officers in all three forces should be considered for grant of PC.
The appellants had joined the IAF between 1994 and 1998 in terms of an IAF circular of 1991 that said that upon completion of five years of service, they will be considered for grant of PC. They claimed that their case for PC was not considered and they were only granted an extension of six years.
The High Court had held that the benefits were available only to serving women SCCOs as on date of judgment and to women SSCOs who had instituted the plea before High Court but retired during pendency of proceedings.
Since the appellants had moved the Court after the judgement, the High Court had rejected their pleas.
Senior Advocates Krishnan Venugopal, Huzefa Ahmadi and Meenakshi Arora appeared for appellants along with advocate Sudhanshu Pandey.
Senior Counsel R Balasubramanian appeared for the respondents.