Action For Promotion: Complaints of Women Officers will be Addressed, ASG Assures SC

Indian Army

The Supreme Court (SC) stated on Friday that the Army is not treating women officers fairly because it was unable to determine why the Army held a selection board for promoting male officers in October while delaying the seniority of women officers who received permanent commissions as a result of the court’s intervention until more positions were created.

“We feel you (Army) have not been fair to these women officers,” said a bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and justice PS Narasimha following a petition filed by 34 women officers who complained that they ought to have been considered along with their male counterparts when the ‘Selection Board-3’ was convened in October this year.

Col. Priyamvada A. Mardikar and Col. Asha Kale, both permanent commissioned officers, are among the 34 women army officers who have filed the plea.

The SC was informed by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain that there are 150 openings for which the selection committee will consider these women officials.

“We are equally concerned about these women officers,” Jain said. To this, the bench said, “We agree you are concerned but not your organization.” The SC further posted the matter for hearing on Monday.

Wondering what stopped the Army from considering the women officers in the October selection board meeting, the SC said, “We are going to pass peremptory orders. Set your house in order. Do not announce the results of the selection board-3 for the male officers till you hold the board for the women officers.”

On November 21, the Army had earlier informed the Supreme Court that 150 positions were awaiting final approval from the Centre. The Army was represented by senior attorney R Balasubramanian. However, senior counsel V Mohana, who represented the women officers, told the SC that because of the selection board’s delayed convening, they were obliged to serve beneath their subordinate gentlemen colleagues in the Indian Army, a highly seniority-conscious organisation.

“The respondents had no justifiable reason to delay in conducting selection board no. 3 for the senior women officers,” the application said.

The women officers said in their appeal submitted to the SC that the special selection board, which had been established two months earlier and reportedly deemed male officers to be far more junior to them for advancement, had discriminated against them.

The plea further stated, “Even after 18 months from the judgment dated March 25, 2021, the respondents (Army) have not conducted special no. 3 selection board, due to which consequential benefits including promotion, financial benefits, study leave, deputation, absorption etc. have not been granted to the women officers.”

The court was given assurances by ASG Jain that the complaints of the women applicants will be addressed.

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