The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and the India Air Force (IAF) to consider the plea of 32 retired women officers for grant of permanent commission (PC). The objective is to give them permanent pensionary benefits. The 32 women officers were recruited on short commission service (SSCO).
The SC was of the opinion that since the 32 women officers had retired from their services between 2006 and 2009, it will not be a good idea to reinstate them on permanent commission. However, if they are found to be eligible for one-time pensionary benefit, they would be entitled for the same from the day they would have completed their 20 years of service if it would have continued.
The 32 retired women officers were inducted into short service commission between 1993 and 1998. Though they were not granted permanent commission, their service was extended by six years and then again for another four years. The bench said that the retired women officers joined the service under the legitimate expectation in pursuance of the policy decision that they will be considered for grant of permanent commission after five years.
The SC referred to a judgement passed by the Delhi High Court in 2010, when a PIL was filed by advocate Babita Puniya, against the discriminatory practice of the Indian Army of not considering women SSCOs for permanent commission. In 2010, the High Court passed the judgement in favour of Puniya, which was challenged by the Indian Army in the Apex court, but the IAF chose to align with the High Court’s 2010 judgement.
The bench clarified that the retired women officers will not be entitled to any salary arrears and that they will get only pension benefits.
The bench comprised CJI (Chief Justice of India), Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice JB Pardiwala.