The Supreme Court has pointed out how the Indian Army discriminates against its women officers when it comes to them being promoted. The SC disapproved of the Indian Army’s discriminatory and arbitrary attitude towards the women officers who had been granted permanent commission although on the face of it the process of promotion to Colonel rank and the criteria for the same appeared to be neutral.
As per the empanelment policy, the confidential reports or CRs of women officers who have been granted permanent commission have to be taken into account for their promotion to the rank of Colonel. The policy demands that more weightage be given to the CRs than other things. In fact 89 out of 100 marks are set aside for CRs when permanent officers are being considered for promotion.
Disappointed women officers had brought to the Court’s notice that the manner in which their CRs were assessed for promotion was unfortunately different from the way the CRs of the male officers were assessed. As a result, the CRs of women officers from the 1995 to 2005 batches had not been appropriately considered, with their complete profile not being taken into account. According to the Court, this was unjust since the women officers had worked equally hard and had a right to the same entitlements as the male officers.
A significant portion of the CRs of the women officers were apparently not included alleging equality reasons with the male officers, while the policy framework provides for all the CRs post nine years of service be taken into account. The Defence Ministry, on the other hand, maintained that the procedure followed by the Special Selection Board (SSB) 3 was different from other SSBs. The former took just one look at the candidate whereas the others took three. Also, the Ministry claimed that the women officers’ profiles were matched with that of their own female batchmates and not with their male batchmates.
However, the SC observed that the
Army was doing ‘disservice’ to the women officers by looking for ways to deprive them of what they were entitled to. It ruled that the manner in which “applicants have been denied empanelment is arbitrary”, as reported by LiveLaw.