New Delhi: The Centre and Army authorities Monday told the Supreme Court that after its last year’s verdict that 487 Women Short Service Commission Officers (WSSCOs) have been granted Permanent Commission (PC) out of the 615 who were considered for it. The top court which recorded its appreciation for all the concerned authorities including Chief of Army Staff for acting fair and objective manner to resolve the issue directed that 12 WSSCOs, who have been released from service during the pendency of proceedings, shall be deemed to continue in service and be granted the Permanent Commission.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was all praise for the Army authorities for their earnest efforts and acting in a fair and objective manner. The bench said that this is heralding a new era in the Armed forces.
“Army authorities have been very-very fair in these proceedings. There has been a complete change in mindset. We have been reading recent statements of the Chief of Naval staff about the women officers, who are being trained and being posted on warships. This is heralding a new era in the Armed Forces,” the Supreme Court bench said.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and senior advocate R Balasubramanian, appearing for Centre and the Army authorities, said that there is an earnest desire that the entire dispute concerning those WSSCOs, who were not granted permanent commission may be resolved finally.
Jain gave the break-up which was recorded by the court in its order that WSSCOs who were eligible for consideration for the grant of PC post-February 17, 2020 verdict was 615 out of which 86 officers did not opt for it bringing the total for consideration to 529.
“Out of 529 WSSCOs 487 have been granted Permanent Commission,” Jain said. He added that out of the remaining 42 officers 21 were found to be medically unfit and have been released. He also mentioned that out of the remaining 21 officers, one has opted out, and in the case of five others – three cases are under disciplinary and vigilance inquiry and one case has been referred to a special board because of redressal of the grievances and medical documents of one officer are under scrutiny.
“Of the remaining cases, 15 WSSCOs were considered for the grant of PC of which 14 have qualified for the grant of PC. Of these 14 WSSCOs, 12 have been formally released during the pendency of the proceedings while two WSSCOs are yet to be released. Since their release date is March 1, 2022,” the bench recorded.
“This court wishes to record its appreciation of the fair position which has been adopted by the Chief of Army Staff. This court also expresses its appreciation of the sincere efforts put by the ASG and senior advocate R Balasubramanian in bringing the fair resolution of the pending issues so as to obviate the officers, who have been granted Permanent Commission be required to pursue any further litigation,” the bench observed.
It directed that in the case of 12 officers, who were released from service during the pendency of proceedings shall be deemed to have continued without any break, as to the grant of Permanent Commission and two officers who are yet to be released should also be granted the PC.
In a landmark verdict February 17 last year, the top court had directed that women officers in the Army be granted a permanent commission, rejecting the Centre’s stand of their physiological limitations as being based on ‘sex stereotypes’ and ‘gender discrimination against women’.