The Supreme Court of India in a verdict has exposed the discriminatory approach of the country’s army towards its women officers, terming the induction criteria as “arbitrary and irrational”.
Being the so-called ‘world’s largest democracy and second largest military’, the moral character of the Indian Army with a history of cases of sexual harassment has once again come under fire, this time for the reason of prejudice and bigotry.
In the course of hearing before Supreme Court, the women officers had contended that their assessment for the permanent commission was not done like their male counterparts who were considered after completion of five years of service.
The Supreme Court directed the Indian army to reconsider the pleas of women Short Service Commission officers for grant of permanent commission within two months in accordance with the fresh directions issued by the Court.
The court asserted that structures of Indian society had been created by ‘males for males’ to the disadvantage of women.
“A facially equal application of laws to unequal parties is a ‘farce’, when the law is structured to cater to a male standpoint,” the court said in its 137-page judgment.
The division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah heard a batch of pleas filed by women Army officers seeking a permanent commission in the Indian army.
“This disproportionate impact is attributable to the structural discrimination against women,” the court said, adding that the methodology adopted for evaluation of their annual confidential reports and the application of “…rigorous medical standard at an advanced stage of their careers… disproportionately impacts them vis-à-vis their male counterparts”.
The “indirect and systemic discrimination…”, it added, “has caused an economic and psychological harm and an affront to their dignity”.
During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud had remarked that a “perverse notion of equality” was being applied against the women officers.
Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner women officers, said the male officers were allowed direct entry into permanent commission, but the same is not available to women officers.