After undergoing a year of rigorous training at the Corps of Military Police (CMP) in Bengaluru, the first batch of women cadets is soon going to be inducted by the Indian Army in its rank-and-file for the first time. Although the passing-out-parade for the first batch is yet to be held, CMP received over 4,000 applications from women in the recent rally organised by the Indian Army. Those who were selected in the rally will form CMP’s second batch of women cadets.
This is a step in the right direction because so far, the Army would only induct women officers in a few streams. This is the first time that women will be inducted in the non-officer category. Once their training is complete, these women will be posted in any of the army’s divisions, including those in forward areas.
According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), a total of 1,700 women military police will be inducted over 17 years.
“Adequate training and administrative infrastructure have been put in place and due diligence was used while developing administrative infrastructure for women recruits’ accommodation, based on interactions with the Officers Training Academy in Chennai, Assam Rifles and National Cadet Corps and the Officers Training Academy in Gwalior,” an earlier statement by the CMP read.
The trained women soldiers will perform similar duties as their male counterparts. Besides being deployed for mandatory operational and peacetime duties, these women will be an asset in the investigation of gender-specific crimes, says the statement.
The army’s first recruitment rally post-Covid was held in December 2020 that saw participation from around 4,000 women and 10,000 men, aspiring to join the CMP.
A look back
In 2020, the Ministry of Defence had issued a government sanction letter for permanent commission of women officers in the Indian Army. This followed the Supreme Court’s direction to the Centre on February 17, 2020, to grant permanent commission to women officers in the army. The officers entitled to the commission included those registered under Short Service Commission (SSC) in all 10 streams of the Indian Army.
These streams included army air defence, signals, engineers, army aviation, electronics and mechanical engineers, army service corps and Intelligence corps, apart from the existing streams of Army Education Corps (AEC) and the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Department.
Apart from this, the Centre recently announced a grant of permanent commission to all other arms/services, in which they are eligible for commission.
The army had also come under criticism, when India’s apex court called its fitness criteria for women short service officers “arbitrary” and “irrational.” Allowing the pleas of a group of women short service officers seeking permanent commission, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah concluded that the Army’s pattern of evaluation would lead to women being excluded from permanent commission “on grounds beyond their control”.
“This disproportionate impact is attributable to the structural discrimination against women,” the court said, adding that the methodology adopted for evaluation of their annual confidential reports and the application of “…rigorous medical standard at an advanced stage of their careers…disproportionately impacts them vis-à-vis their male counterparts”.
The court highlighted that “several of the women officers before the court had won several awards. Several had done well on overseas assignments.” Furthermore, even those who had excelled in sports events were ignored.
The SC has directed the Army to consider the grant of the permanent commission for women officers within a month, after following due process.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)