“Ensure Women’s Permanent Commission in Indian Coast Guard or We Will Intervene”: SC Warns Centre


The Supreme Court directed the central government on Monday to ensure the provision of permanent commission for women in the Indian Coast Guard, warning that the court would intervene if the government fails to act.

A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, along with Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, made this remark while considering submissions by Attorney General R Venkataramani regarding operational challenges in granting permanent commissions to Short Service Commission Officers (SSCOs).

Dismissing arguments based on functionality in the year 2024, the Chief Justice stated, “All these functional arguments do not hold weight. Women cannot be left out. If you do not do it, we will intervene. So, take that into consideration.”

The Attorney General informed the bench about the establishment of a board by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) to address the issues raised.

“You must have women on board,” the bench said, and scheduled the hearing for Friday due to time constraints today.

Earlier, the bench had emphasized the necessity for a policy in the maritime force that treats women equitably.

The Apex Court was hearing a plea filed by Indian Coast Guard officer Priyanka Tyagi, seeking the grant of permanent commission to eligible women short-service commission officers of the force.

“You speak of ‘nari shakti’ (woman power). Now show it here. You are in the deep end of the sea in this matter. You must come up with a policy which treats women fairly,” the bench had observed at that time.

It had also inquired whether the Union was still adopting “a patriarchal approach” despite the judgments of the apex court on the grant of permanent commission to women officers in the three armed forces – Army, Air Force, and the Navy.

“Why are you being so patriarchal? You do not want to see the face of women in the Coast Guard,” the bench had asked Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, who represented the ICG earlier.

The bench highlighted that the petitioner was the sole Short Service Commission woman officer who was seeking permanent commission and questioned why her case was not considered.

“Now, the Coast Guard must come up with a policy,” the bench emphasized. It had previously instructed the law officer to review the judgments granting permanent commissions to women officers in the three defence services.

The bench had also inquired whether there was a provision for a permanent commission for women in the Coast Guard.

Upon learning that a 10 per cent permanent commission can be granted to women officers, the bench had queried, “Why 10 per cent… are women lesser human beings?”

It had questioned why the ICG was not granting women permanent commissions when the Indian Navy was. The court had additionally directed the Centre to develop a gender-neutral policy on the issue.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte