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SC seeks Centre’s response on denying women cadets entry to NDA, Naval Academy

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  • An application moved by a prospective female cadet was also entertained by the Court as the applicant demanded that “systematic discriminatory treatment meted out to eligible female candidates aspiring to join the NDA to train as future officers of the Indian Armed Forces” be done away with.

By Abraham Thomas

PUBLISHED ON MAR 11, 2021 02:29 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Ministry of Defence to explain its policy to exclude women cadets from being trained for armed forces at the prestigious National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Naval Academy.

A petition filed by advocate Kush Kalra brought the issue before the Court which has issued notice to the Centre, the NDA, the Department of Defence through the Chief of Defence Staff, and the Union Public Services Commission that invites applications from eligible male candidates and even conducts examination for entry into NDA.

Finding this to be a barrier for eligible women for pursuing their dream to serve in the Armed Forces, the petition said, “Eligible and willing female candidates are not allowed to take the said Examination (of NDA and Naval Academy) on the sole ground of their sex…and this act of discrimination is a dishonour committed by the Respondents to the Constitutional values of Equality (Article 14) and Non-Discrimination (Article 15) in the Constitution of India.” Besides, the petition even alleged violation of Article 16 (equal opportunities in matters of public employment) and Article 19 (freedom to practice profession).

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice on the petition filed through advocate Mohit Paul. The petitioner told the Court that the occasion to file the petition came after the top court delivered a landmark verdict in February 2020 allowing women short service commission officers in the Army to be eligible for permanent commission. At present, the only route for women to enter Armed Forces is through applying for short service commission.

An application moved by a prospective female cadet was also entertained by the Court as the applicant demanded that “systematic discriminatory treatment meted out to eligible female candidates aspiring to join the NDA to train as future officers of the Indian Armed Forces” be done away with.

The applicant said, “The relief claimed by the petitioner, if granted by the Court, would possibly be the breakthrough step in moving towards facilitating equal representation of genders in the Armed Forces.” Presently, the sex ratio in the Armed Forces is skewed. As per a recent statement by the Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik in the Rajya Sabha, women officers in the Army constitute a negligible 0.56 per cent, 1.08 per cent in the Air Force, and 6.5 per cent in the Navy, the application said.

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