Supreme Court Allows Permanent Commission for Women Officers in Army

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ordered the Central Government to allow Permanent Commission to female officers who were excluded on the grounds of unequal fitness standards and application procedures.

In its judgement, the Apex Court noted that the fitness standard(Shape 1 criteria) applied to male officers when they are granted Permanent Commission during the early years of their service. However, the women officers were granted Permanent Commission last year after the Apex Court’s landmark judgement in Secretary Ministry of Defence vs Babita Puniya.

The petitioners submitted that if the army applied Shape 1 rule on them now, it would be arbitrary.

According to the court, the Shape 1 Rule was not arbitrary, but there was discrimination in the application process. The Court noted that according to the army, the medical category is applied after considering the age. However, male officers don’t have to maintain Shape 1 Fitness as they get PC early in their career.

In this context, the COurt held that women officers who were excluded from Permanent Commission in November 2020 due to non-compliance to Shape 1 standards are entitled to serve as Permanent Commissioned Officers till they fulfil the criteria.

The Bench rejected the Centre’s contention that additional standards set since the usual upper limit of two fifty Permanent Commissioned Officers a year were not adhered to given Apex Court’s verdict in the Babita Puniya case.

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Hon’ble Court remarked that if the ceiling was applied, it bypassed female officers’ route. The process used to consider SSC officers for Permanent Commission was due to belated application of judgement rendered in the Babita Puniya case. The Court further noted that the finest female officers were ignored because their merit and award were on the 5th and 10th year of service.

Another significant remark made by the Bench was that males made societal structures for the benefit of males.

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