Women officers first entered the Indian Army in 1992 as part of the increasing gender sensitivity of the times. The terms and conditions at that time were clear. It was a Short Service Commission (SSC) for five years; later it was extended to 10 and yet again to 14.
But earlier this year in a path to demolish gender discrimination in Army, the Supreme Court had declared that all women officers would be considered for permanent commission and hence would be eligible for command posting on par with male officers. Finally, On Friday, it was declared that around 70% of women officers who were considered for permanent commission in the army by a special selection board have been selected to serve a full term in the army.
As 615 women are examined for permanent commission, and in that 422 have been found to be fit for the role by the board, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The results of the special board were declassified on Thursday.
The board was summoned months after the government issued an official order in July allowing for the permanent commission to women following a Supreme Court verdict. The government’s July 23 order specified grant of permanent commission to women officers in 10 streams—Army Air Defence (AAD), Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Army Service Corps (ASC), Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), and Intelligence Corps in addition to the existing streams of Judge and Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC).
The army had set August 31 as the deadline for short-service commissioned (SSC) women officers to submit their applications for permanent commission. The Supreme Court in February ruled that women should be considered for command roles and that all women officers are entitled to permanent commission. It asked the army to give them permanent commission within three months in a major boost to gender parity.
The Centre got a one-month extension on July 7 to device the Supreme Court’s verdict after it moved an application before the apex court seeking the extension of the deadline by another six months citing the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed to check its spread from March 25.
The Supreme Court’s judgment was hailed for creating a new equality paradigm in the armed forces. It upheld a 2010 Delhi high court verdict. The Supreme Court ruled that women officers, who joined the Indian Army through short-service commission, are entitled to permanent commission even if they have more than 14 years of service.