SUPREME COURT LIFTS BAR ON GRANT OF PERMANENT COMMISSION TO WOMEN OFFICERS OF THE INDIAN NAVY

The #SupremeCourt has recently passed a Judgment dated 17-02-2020 in Union of India and others vs Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja & Ors., wherein the Apex Court held that the Union Government would have to grant permanent commission, i.e. a career in the Armed Forces till one retires (#PermanentCommission), to #ShortServiceCommission (#SSC) women officers in the #IndianNavy, as per their qualifications, professional experience, organizational requirement, etc.

In this case, six Writ Petitions were filed in the Delhi High Court by women officers who had joined the Logistics cadre, Air Traffic Controller (ATC) cadre and the Education Branch of the Indian Navy as SSC Officers. Herein, they have challenged the constitutional validity of the Policy Letter dated 26-09-2008 and the Implementation Guidelines dated 03-12-2008 issued by the Ministry of Defence, on the grounds that they granted Permanent Commissions to SSC officers only to certain categories of the #ArmedForces and that they operated prospectively for the benefit of future batches inducted as SSCs post January 2009. As a result of which, a number of officers in the Logistics cadre, ATC cadre and the Education Branch of the Indian Navy were released from service on completion of their tenure of SSC engagement.

In this regard, on an appeal to the Supreme Court, an Interim Order dated 20-11-2015 was passed, thereby directing the Government to permit the SSC Officers serving in the Navy as on 26-09-2008, to continue their service and also to permit those other SSC Officers serving in the Navy, who were released from service upon completion of their short tenure, to join back to service.

Further, in this case, the Apex Court made the following observations and held that:

1- The restrictions imposed on SSC Officers to the extent that they are made prospective and restricted to specified cadres under the Policy and the Guidelines have been set aside for causing serious prejudice to women SSC officers in the Navy.

2- The SSC officers in the said case except those in ATC cadres and those in the Education, Law and Logistics cadres who are presently in service shall be granted Permanent Commissions based on vacancies available.

3- Both male and women officers would be able to apply for grant of Permanent Commissions for the same period of service, for the same consequential benefits of pay, promotions, retiral benefits, etc, after they complete their respective short terms of service.

4- All those SSC officers who were inducted prior to the issue of the Policy Letter and who are not presently in service, and as a result could not be given Permanent Commissions, shall be given a one-time compensation.

Thus, the Supreme Court directed the Union Government to implement the aforesaid directions within three months of the date of the said Judgment dated 17-02-2020 and thereby, consider SSC women officers in service for Permanent Commissions irrespective of their tenure of service.

Harini Daliparthy

Senior Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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