The Delhi High Court has closed the proceedings in a PIL alleging gender bias and discrimination in the Indian Air Force (IAF) against women who were not employed as ‘airmen’ in the technical and non-technical grades in any of its departments, noting that pursuant to recruitment under the Agnipath scheme there is no gender discrimination now.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, in an order passed last week, recorded the Centre has stated on affidavit that it is now recruiting unmarried Indian male as well as female candidates in Army, Navy and Air Force under the Agnipath Scheme and no further court orders were required in this regard.
The petitioner, Kush Kalra, had objected to the recruitment of only unmarried men to the post of ‘airmen’ in groups ‘X’ and ‘Y’ trades in all the departments of the force.
Group ‘X’ trade refers to technical fields like aircraft and ground systems, while group ‘Y’ pertains to non-technical fields like logistics and accounts.
“An affidavit has been filed on behalf of the Union of India and it has been brought to the notice of this Court that on account of a policy decision taken by the Government in the matter of recruitment in Army, Navy and Air Force under the Agnipath Scheme, the Union of India is recruiting unmarried Indian male as well as female candidates.
“The Agniveervayus are being recruited in the Air Force and there is no gender discrimination. In light of the aforesaid, no further orders are required to be passed in the present PIL,” the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, said.
The petitioner had moved the court in 2018 after IAF issued an advertisement inviting applications from only unmarried male candidates for the job of airmen in the two groups.
“There is no reasonable justification for depriving inclusion of women/females as Airmen in group ‘X’ trade and group ‘Y’ trade in all the departments of Indian Air Force by the respondents (MoD and IAF).
“The eligibility criteria for the recruitment to the post of Airmen in group ‘X’ trade and group ‘Y’ trade in all the departments of Indian Air force clearly mentions ‘only unmarried male Indian citizens’. Thereby, respondents are indulging in gender bias and discriminatory practice in employment,” the plea, filed through advocate Charu Wali Khanna, had said.