The Central government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that a decision has been taken to allow the induction of women into the Armed Forces through the National Defence Academy (NDA). A Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that it was extremely glad to know that Armed Forces themselves took decisions to induct women in NDA. Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for Centre told the Bench that Centre took the decision yesterday after consultation with three service chiefs.
“There is a piece of good news. A decision has been taken at the highest level of forces and government that women will be inducted for Permanent Commission through the National Defence Academy. The decision was taken late evening yesterday,” ASG Bhati submitted.
The Bench said it would like the Defence forces to take a “more pro-active approach towards gender equality” instead of the court directing them to do so.
“We have been periodically nudging the authorities to do it themselves. We do believe they are best suited to evolve rules. It’s not a happy situation for us. Armed forces are respected forces of this country but on gender equality, they have to do more,” said Justice Kaul.
The apex asked ASG Bhati to put the statement on record through an affidavit and adjourned the matter for two weeks and posted the matter for hearing on September 22. “We are extremely glad to know as ASG submits that armed forces have taken a decision to induct females in NDA and other issues are being examined. They would like to place developments and future plans before us for which time is sought,” it said.
The court was hearing the plea seeking to allow women to take part in the NDA exams. Earlier, the top court had in an interim order allowed women to take the NDA exam which was scheduled for September 5, and had also slammed the Indian Army for the decisions that are based on ‘gender discrimination.
Today, ASG said that the women will be admitted to the NDA and apprised the Bench that the exam was postponed to November 24, 2021.
Bhati urged the apex court that the status quo be maintained with respect to the NDA admissions for the current academic year. “Consider granting status quo for this examination and let it continue, as it will need policy, procedure, training, and infrastructure changes,” the ASG submitted.
The Bench asked ASG to place on record the developments through an affidavit. The top court had earlier, allowed female candidates to sit for the NDA exam on September 5 but said that the admissions will be subject to the outcome of the petition. It had also slammed the government and army for not allowing women to take part in NDA exams.
“It’s a policy decision which is based on gender discrimination. We direct the Centre and army to take a constructive view of the matter…, the Bench had said expressing displeasure on ‘regressive mindset’,” said in the top court.
The petition was filed in the apex court seeking directions to allow eligible female candidates to join the NDA and the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at par with the men.
The plea filed by advocate Kush Kalra stated that denial of opportunity to women candidates to enrol at the NDA is violative of Articles 14, 15, 16, and 19 of the Constitution.