The Defence Ministry has issued the formal letter sanctioning the grant of Permanent Commission (PC) for women officers, empowering eligible women personnel to take on more responsibility in the Indian army.
Earlier, Women officers were allowed for permanent commission in Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Education Corps.
From now, women officers will be granted permanent commission in 10 Streams of Indian Army including Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, Intelligence Corps, Judge Advocate General (JAG) & Army Education Corps
Image Source: The Print
"In anticipation, the Army Head Quarters had already set in motion a series of preparatory actions for the conduct of the Permanent Commission selection board for eligible women officers. The board will be scheduled as soon as all eligible women SSC officers exercise their option and complete requisite documentation," said an Army officer.
Earlier this year General M.M. Naravane said that the process of selection for Permanent Commission for women would be the same as applied to male SSC officers.
- Women officers were first allowed in the Indian Army in 1992 as a move of women empowerment.
- Initially, It was a Short Service Commission (SSC) for five years; later it was extended to 10 and yet again to 14 years.
- In 2008, the Permanent Commission was extended to women in streams of Judge Advocate General and Army Education Corps.
- Early this year, The Supreme Court has ruled that the women officers that are serving in the Short Service Commission (SSC) are eligible for the permanent commission and command posts in the Army irrespective of their years of Service.
- The verdict was a result of a 10-year-old appeal filed by the Government against the 2010 decision of the Delhi High Court to allow SSC women officers for permanent Commission.
- The Supreme Court instructed the Government to implement its judgment in three months.
Impact due to the Permanent Commission of Women Officers
- The order of the Supreme Court extends permanent Service for women and makes them eligible for ranks, pensions and promotions.
- Like their male counterparts, Now, a woman can rise to the rank of Colonel and above based on merit.
- At the rank of Colonel, an officer gets more powers to carry out independent tasks. A Colonel is a commander of a battalion, which typically consists of 850 men.
- A woman officer who is successful in the position of Colonel can rise to the highest rank in the Army.
Image Source: Times of India
Reason in the Supreme Court from Government side while objecting to the Permanent Commission for women
- Physical limitations: Army works in difficult terrains, disconnected posts and adverse climate conditions. Officers have to lead their soldiers from the front. They should physically fit to undertake combat tasks. According to the Government, women were not fit to serve in ground combat roles.
- Behavioural and Psychological Challenges: Army units were a “unique all-male environment”. The presence of women officers would require “moderated behaviour”. The male soldiers mostly come from a rural background and may not be in a position to accept commands from a female leader.
- Motherhood, childcare, psychological limitations, etc are the challenges for women officers in the Army.
The stand of the Supreme Court on Permanent Commission
- The Supreme Court said non-representation of women officers, at commanding positions, is a violation of Equality under the law.
- It said that the argument, Troops from Rural backgrounds will not accept women officers at commanding posts is unacceptable and disturbing.
- Unlike male officers (SSC), who can opt for Permanent Commission, women officers don't have the choice for Permanent Commission.
- Women officers are also kept out of Commanding positions because at these positions Permanent commission officers are preferred.
- Also, they do not qualify for the Government pension, since there is a requirement of a minimum of 20 years of Service as an officer for it.
Representation of Women Officers in the Armed Forces
The representation of women in the Indian Army was only 3.89 per cent, Navy 6.7 per cent and Air Force 13.28 per cent, this data excludes the medical corps, dental corps and Military Nursing Service.
Till now, Women can apply for Indian Army through the Short Service Commission (SSC) and they could not serve beyond 14 years, however, there were some officers who continued on extensions but were still not given the permanent commission.
There are more than 300 women officers who are serving for more than 14 years on the extension.
The women officers recruited through the SSC in the Indian Air Force have the option of seeking a permanent commission in all streams except the flying branch.
The Indian Navy has allowed the permanent commission of women in a host of departments such as logistics, naval designing, air traffic control, engineering and legal.
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