With a significant judgement, the Delhi High Court has brought some relieving news for women in the defence services. The court has allowed permanent commission for women in the Indian Navy, entitling them for full time service and retirement benefits.
“Women are here to stay,” said a Delhi High Court bench in a landmark judgement this Friday.
The court has said that women naval officers should be offered permanent commission in the Navy. Thus, women can now have full term service in the Indian Navy and can enjoy retirement benefits as well.
The judgement came after the court heard six pleas filed by 19 retired and serving women officers from the education, logistics and ATC branches of the Navy. These women had filed their petitions seeking permanent commission in the force. In a similar judgement, women in the Army and Air Force had been granted permission for permanent commission by the High Court in 2010.
Prior to this, women were only eligible for short-term commissions in the Navy, with the maximum term of just 14 year. Because of this, they were not entitled to enjoy retirement facilities, for which one has to serve for at least 20 years. Thus the court has also allowed the officers’ plea requesting retirement benefits like pension.
“Courts would frown upon any endeavour which tries to restrain progress of women,” said the bench of Justice Kailash Gambhir and Justice Najmi Waziri. They reminded the Central Government and others who oppose this move that women today “work shoulder to shoulder” with men, and that “sexist bias and service bias” should not be blocking their progress.
The officers had also challenged a 2008 decision made by the Navy which said that only those women who join the force after 2008 will be granted permanent commission; that too only those serving in the Education, Law and Naval Architecture branches.
According a senior naval officer, they will have to relook at the rules because as of now, women are not allowed on ships. Hence it will be difficult to promote them to the rank of Captain since it requires officers to fulfil tenure at the sea.