New Delhi(PTI): The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Delhi High Court order allowing women, serving as short service commission officers, to get permanent commission in the Indian Navy. A bench of Justices T S Thakur and V Gopala Gowda issued notice to the concerned woman Navy officers on whose plea the High Court had passed the order allowing permanent commission for them in the force. The government had challenged the order in the apex court.
“Pending further orders from this Court, we direct that such of the respondents (petitioners before the High Court) as were serving as short service commissioned officers in the Navy as on September 26, 2008, shall be allowed to continue on the terms and conditions applicable to them in that capacity. We further direct that such of the officers out of the respondents (petitioners before the High Court) as may have been released from service after September 26, 2008, upon completion of the short service commissioned tenure, shall be permitted to join back in terms of the order passed by the High Court and continue in service in that capacity,” the bench said in its order.
Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, during the hearing, told the court that the High Court had “erroneously” held that it as a case of gender discrimination. Rohtagi said the HC had overlooked the fact that in the navy, neither men nor women, who are commissioned under short service category, can be given permanent commission.
On September 4, the High Court had allowed a bunch of pleas seeking permanent commission for them in the force, saying “sexist bias and service bias” would not be allowed to block progress of women. The court, while granting their plea, had said the “women are here to stay” and since they “work shoulder to shoulder” with their male counterparts, it would “frown upon any endeavour to restrain the progress of women”.
While the Army and Air Force allow permanent commission for women, the Navy has limited women officers only to short service commission of 14 years.
The High Court had passed the judgement on the plea of several naval women officers, both retired and serving, from the logistics, education and air traffic control departments of the Navy. The women naval officers in their pleas in the high court had sought similar rights as their counterparts in the other two wings of the armed forces. They had also alleged gender discrimination, saying while women officers were only entitled to short service commission, men were entitled to both short service as well as permanent commissions.