Supreme Court: Taking a significant step towards gender equality, the Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., issued interim direction permitting the women candidates to take part in the National Defence Academy (NDA) examination.

Noticeably, the three modes of recruitment of officers in the Indian Army are through the National Defence Academy (NDA), Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Officers Training Academy (OTA). NDA and IMA are modes of direct entry through UPSC; whereas, through OTA, women are commissioned along with men, both through UPSC and Non-UPSC mode of entry. They are granted Short Service Commission, both men and women, and subsequently are considered for grant of Permanent Commission.

ASG, Ms Aishwarya Bhati submitted before the Bench on behalf of the Union government that a policy decision should not be interfered by an interim measure. It was her submission that subject to certain conditions laid down by the Supreme Court in Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya, 2020 (7) SCC 469, ten streams are open for women officers in army.

Pointing out the apparent gender biasness on the part of Army, the Bench asked, whether in the ten streams is there recruitment of male officers from the NDA route? Expressing disappointment over the reply of the Army, the Bench stated,

“We would have expected a more considered affidavit on policy decision based on gender equality more specifically keeping in mind the observations of this Court in Babita Puniya’s case (Supra).”

In view of the impending examination and on hearing counsel for parties, the Bench issued interim direction permitting the women candidates to take part in the NDA examination scheduled for 05-09-2021, subject to further orders from the Court. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) was directed 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.

Similarly, taking note that the process of admitting girls in Sainik Schools had already started and it would be further expanded, the Bench commented on non-inclusion of girls in Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC),

“It is stated that it is a 99 years old institution which will complete 100 years next year. The question is whether it completes its 100 years with gender neutrality or not!”

Since the matter has direct relation with admission in NDA programmes, the Bench scheduled it on 09-09-2021 for consideration.[Kush Kalra v. Union of India, Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No.1416 of 2020, 18-08-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance by:

For Petitioner(s): Petitioner-in-person, Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, Sr. Adv., Mohit Paul, AOR, Sunaina Phul, Adv. and Irfan Haseib, Adv.,

For Respondent(s): Aishwarya Bhati, Ld. ASG, Archana Pathak Dave, Adv., Ruchi Kohli, Adv., Chinmayee Chandra, Adv. and Arvind Kumar Sharma, AOR

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