Permanent commission for woman in Indian army
All wings of the Indian Armed Forces allow women in combat roles (junior ranks) and combat supervisory roles (officers)], except Indian Army (support roles only) and Special Forces of India (trainer role only) .
In 1888 , the role of women in the Indian army began when the "Indian Military Nursing Service" was formed during the British Rule. There was a woman's regiment under Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose 's Indian National Army called the Rani of Jhansi Regiment during World War II.
Under the Army act of 1950 , woman were ineligible for regular commissions. But on 1 November 1958, the Army medical corps became the first unit of Indian Army to grant regular commission to woman.
In 1922,an important event in history of Indian Army was, induction of woman into the officer cadre, and their training was undertaken by officers training academy. At present more than 120 lady officers have already been commissioned into various arms and services of Indian Army.
They were commissioned for a period of 5 years in a certain streams like education Corps Corps of signals ,intelligence Corps and Corps of Engineers.
What is permanent Commission?
PC or permanent Commission in Indian Army means a career in Indian Army till you retire. You get a chance to serve Mother India till you work. And you can take voluntary retirement at any age.
There are 2 institution of army which trains officers for permanent Commission. They are Indian Military Academy and Officer Training Academy Chennai.
Why Lady officers had problem with PC?
While male SSC could opt for permanent Commission at the end of 10 years of their service. But this option was not available to woman officers. They were kept out of any command appointment and they could also not qualify for government pension because it starts only after 20 years of service.
The reason for not providing PC to woman?
The physical fitness standards are 25-30% lower vis-à-vis the male.
There are also biological limitations, female soldiers as compared to men, with 45-50% less upper body strength and 25-30% less aerobic capacity, which is essential for endurance .
There is marked drop in the performance of woman after marriage and child bearing.
There is also marked tendency to request for peace tenures to look after the children and more than authorized posting with spouse.
What happened next?
The case was first filed in the Delhi High Court, by women officers in 2003, and they received a favourable order in 2010,but it was never implemented.
In 2006,the WSES scheme was replaced with the SCC scheme, which was extended to woman officers. Now it was made 10+4, which means they were commissioned for a period of 10 years and they had option to extend upto 4 years. But still they were excluded from combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
In 2020, in benchmark supreme Court judgement, secretary, ministry of defense vs Babita puniya case. The supreme Court held that there is a need for an administrative will and’ change the mindset’ and directed government to grant PC and command postings in all services other than combat to woman officers.
The government order specifies the grant of PC to short service commissioned ( ssc) woman officers in all the 10 stream of the army in which they serve at present. The same will be followed for male ssc officers too.
What was verdict of the supreme Court?
About 322 woman officers had approached to Apex Court on the issue of PC, the Court directed the government to ensure that woman officers, are granted PC in the army, irrespective of their years of service.
The issue of command posting was raised, the government cited “physical” and “physiological” limitations for same, but supreme Court said there was need for administrative will and “change of mindset” regarding this. This adding that woman officers will be eligible for command posting. The supreme Court both observed that there could not be absolute exclusion of women officers for command assignments, and they should be considered on a case by case basis .
The following opportunities are still denied to women:
• Direct permanent commission into the armed forces through National Defence Academy After 10+2 and through respective Service academies after graduation.
• Joining fighting arms – Infantry/Mechanised Infantry/Armoured Corps — and artillery.
Service on ships/submarines in the Navy. The Indian Navy has, in-principle, accepted the
proposal, subject to gender-specific facilities being created.
• Joining Special Forces.
• Enrolment as soldiers, sailors and air warriors, that is as personnel below officer rank in Army, Navy and the Air Force. The three Services are in the process of making experimental token enrolment.
Why is this significant?
People perceive that army is ment to be for men, but we also know that there are many and enough heroic battle fought by women to bust myth. From Rani of Jhansi during revolt of 1857, to squadron leader Minty Agarwal of Indian airforce, who guided wing Commander abhinandan varthaman during balakot airstrike. Therefore the battle to break a gender stereotype and provide equal opportunities for woman in army must be fought and it was to be before supreme Court of India. And supreme Court called out the misogyny and directed for equal treatment . This decision of supreme Court will go on long way to end prejudice associated with Army.
The Court observed that women were not being given command post as the other ranks and files may face problem with woman as commanding officers or vice versa. Thus change is necessary for a society and country to progress, flourish, and grow. Therefore changes have to take place in the culture, norms and values. The responsibility to ensure and implement and safeguard these changes lies with senior military and political leadership.
Countries like United States, Israel, north Korea, Netherlands, Australia, and Canada are among the global militaries that employ woman in front line combat positions .
And on better note, The Indian Army has done experimental token enrollment of ladies in corps of military police and Assam rifles in 2020.
It is the right of every woman to pursue a career of her choice and reach the top. Equality is a constitutional guarantee.
Empowerment starts with Equality
BALLB, (1st year)
Army Institute of law, mohali