Women navy soldiers march in formation down the ceremonial boulevard during Republic Day parade. (Screen-grab, Copyrights: Economic Times)
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Delhi:

“Women can sail with the same efficiency as male,” said Supreme Court while giving a judgment today. We all knew that, didn’t we? But unfortunately, the Indian Navy was unaware until today.

In a landmark judgement delivered today, the Supreme Court ordered that both male and female officers should be treated equally while granting permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Navy.

There can’t be 101 excuses

“Women can sail with the same efficiency as male officers and there should be no discrimination,” the court observed. The judgement was passed by a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, who said that there can’t be 101 excuses for not granting gender equality in the armed forces.

The bench also directed the Centre to give permanent commission to serving women officers in Navy within three months with increments.

Justice DY Chandrachud (Screen-grab, Copyrights: NDTV)

Centre had claimed that sea sailing duties cannot be granted to SSC (Short Service Commission) women officers in the Navy because its Russian vessels do not have washrooms for them. However, the bench rejected this claim and called it a serious miscarriage of justice.

“Once the statutory bar was lifted to allow entry of women officers, then male and female officers are to be treated equally in the granting of permanent commission,” the court said.

Navy to upgrade infrastructure

The Supreme Court has granted the Centre three months time to comply with its orders. The women officers are also eligible for a permanent commission in ATC & Logistics too, apart from Education and there can be no discrimination based on physiological conditions, the court directed.

The court also observed that there are enough examples to suggest women officers in the Navy have brought accolades to the force. The Navy which welcomed the judgement said that it would need to upgrade its infrastructure.

(Screen-grab, Copyrights: Jagranjosh)

The women naval officers had argued in their plea that gender-based classification was justified by governments across the world using inane explanations. They also stated that the government would go to any length to justify their discriminatory behaviour.

“These misconceived reasons are being masqueraded as organisational issues to scuttle and deny the right of rationality, equality and equal opportunities and deserve to be rejected completely and outrightly, in the same manner,” said Aishwarya Bhati, counsel for the women officers.

The court also condemned the excuses given by the centre.

“The contentions of the Centre, regarding the issue of physiological limitations and social norms to deny an opportunity to women officers is disturbing and can’t be accepted. Physiological features of women should not be the basis for grant or denial of permanent commission,” it had added.

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