The Ministry of Defence has issued a formal government sanction letter for permanent commission of women officers in the Indian Army. This follows 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 include those registered under Short Service Commission (SSC) in all 10 streams of the Indian Army.
These streams include 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.
“Their Selection Board will be scheduled as soon as all affected SSC women officers exercise their option and complete requisite documentation,” the Army Spokesperson Col Aman Anand has told the media.
According to ANI, women officers can now assume roles of importance in the Army. The organisation is also entitled to assign women in non-combatant roles.
As of now, the Army Education Corps (AEC) and the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Department inducts women officers, and most of them have a maximum tenure of 14 years in the Army.
Here’s what the Supreme Court said, while announcing the order, “To cast aspersion on their abilities on the ground of gender is an affront not only to their dignity as women but to the dignity of the members of the Indian Army men and women who serve as equal citizens in a common mission.”
Several lawmakers and celebrities have lauded the government’s decision to promote inclusivity and empowerment amongst women.
Towards stronger, confident & empowered women!
Celebrating नारी शक्ति, PM @NarendraModi ji takes historic decision of sanctioning Permanent Commission to Women Officers in all ten streams of the Indian Army.
Indian women now have greater opportunities to serve our motherland. pic.twitter.com/sylOpDTwHF
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) July 23, 2020
A fine tribute to नारी शक्ति, indeed! Due to a superlative performance by women in the armed forces, GoI has implemented the sanctioning of #PermanentCommission to them in all ten streams of #IndianArmy. As a woman, my heart is bursting with pride. #JaiHind 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/1P0TMDeBA4
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) July 24, 2020
Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani tweeted that “Walking the talk on emancipating women in every sphere, Government has sanctioned Permanent Commission to women officers in all 10 streams of the Indian Army.”
Actor Taapsee Pannu, a strong proponent of women’s rights, also hailed this historic move.
As per a media report, women officers constitute only four percent of the total strength of officers in the Indian Army. Amongst the 1,653 Women Officers in the Indian Army, 77 Officers have over 20 years of service, and 255 have service tenure between 14 and 20 years. Earlier, 322 women officers had approached the Supreme Court seeking permanent commission in the Army.
Recently, women officers who had cleared the eligibility criteria for permanent commission in the Army this February challenged in the apex court, the revised standards they must meet now. These include new physical fitness tests and completion of a mandatory junior command (JC) course. According to women officers, the standards for physical test rules were “unfair” with “no scientific basis.”
In March, the Directorate General of Military Training (DGMT) of the Army made a JC course at Army War College at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, mandatory for women officers. Notably, it was only a few months ago that women officers in the Indian army were granted permanent commission by the Supreme Court.
(Edited by Athira Nair)