NEW DELHI — The Central Government of India on Sept. 8 said to the Supreme Court of India that they had decided to allow the induction of women into the Armed Forces through the National Defense Academy.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for Centre, said the Bench that Centre decided after consultation with three service chiefs.

A Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that it was delighted that Armed Forces themselves decided to induct women into the National Defence Academy.

“There is a piece of good news. A decision has been taken at the highest level of forces and government that women will be inducted for Permanent Commission through the National Defence Academy. The decision was taken late evening on Sept. 8,” Bhati submitted.

The Bench said it would like the Defense forces to take a “more pro-active approach towards gender equality” instead of the court directing them.

“We have been periodically nudging the authorities to do it themselves,” said Kaul.

“We do believe they are best suited to evolve rules. It’s not a happy situation for us. Armed forces are respected forces of this country, but on gender equality, they have to do more.”

Bhati was also asked by the Supreme Court of India to put the statement on record through an affidavit, adjourned the matter for two weeks, and posted the case for hearing on Sept. 22.

“We are delighted to know as additional solicitor general submits that armed forces have decided to induct females in National Defense Academy and other issues are being examined,” it said.

“They would like to place developments and plans before us for which time is sought.”

The court was hearing the plea seeking to allow women to participate in the National Defense Academy exams.

Earlier, the top court had in an interim order allowed women to take the National Defense Academy exam, which was scheduled for Sept. 5, and had also slammed the Indian Army for the decisions that are based on “gender discrimination.”

The additional solicitor general said that the women would be admitted to the National Defense Academy and apprised the Bench that the exam was postponed to Nov. 24, 2021.

Bhati urged the apex court that the status quo be maintained concerning the National Defense Academy admissions for the current academic year of 2021-22.

“Consider granting status quo for this examination and let it continue, as it will need policy, procedure, training, and infrastructure changes,” the additional solicitor general submitted.

The Bench asked Bhati to place on record the developments through an affidavit.

Earlier, the Supreme Court allowed female candidates to sit for the National Defense Academy exam on Sept. 5 but said that the admissions would be subject to the petition’s outcome. It also slammed the government and Army for not allowing women to participate in National Defense Academy exams.

“It is a policy decision which is based on gender discrimination,” said the top court.

“We direct the Centre and army to take a constructive view of the matter; the Bench had said expressing displeasure on ‘regressive mindset.’”

The petition was filed in the apex court seeking directions to allow eligible female candidates to join the National Defense Academy and the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at par with the men.

The plea filed by advocate Kush Kalra said that the denial of opportunity to women candidates to enroll at the National Defense Academy violates Articles 141516, and 19 of the Constitution.

Earlier, the Bench had also issued a notice in an impalement application by Anita. She was denied an opportunity to enroll at the National Defense Academy. She said that she had to give up her aspirations to join the Armed Forces.

“The eligible and willing female candidates being denied the opportunity of entry to the National Defense Academy based on their sex and thereby systematically and categorically excluding eligible female candidates the opportunity to train at the premier joint training institute of the Indian Armed Forces,” stated in the plea.

This, the plea stated, at a later point of time, is poised to become a hurdle in the career advancement opportunities for Female Officers in the Armed Forces.

The petition was filed in light of the directions issued by the top court on the extension of Permanent Commission to Short Service Commissioned women officers of the Indian Army.

“After the passing of the judgment in the matter of Secretary, Ministry of Defence versus Babita Puniya, Permanent Commission has been extended to the Women Officers of the Army,” said the plea.

“However, there is still no mode of entry available to female candidates to join the Armed Forces as Permanent Commission Officers.”

“To maintain the status quo in the present state of affairs, female candidates have to apply through the appropriate mode of entry into times as a Short Service Commissioned Officer and, after serving for a certain period, have the option to opt for Permanent Commission,” the plea said.

It said granting Permanent Commission to the Short Service Commission Women Officers is only half a measure to restore equality of opportunity in the Army.

“The categorical exclusion of women to train at the National Defense Academy and get commissioned into the Armed Forces of the Country as Permanent Commissioned Officers solely based on their sex is a denial of the Fundamental Right to Practice any Profession,” the plea said.

“It is not justifiable within the contours of the Indian Constitution. The government allows unmarried male candidates having adequate 10+2 qualification to take the National Defense Academy and Naval Academy Examination.”

“However, eligible and willing female candidates are not allowed to take this Examination on the sole ground of their sex and without any reasonable or justifiable explanations,” the petitioner said.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra

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