Centre Informs Supreme Court that it is Agreeable to Induction of Women in NDA
8th September 2021, in a landmark move, the Center informed the Supreme Court on the induction of women into the Indian Armed Forces through the National Defense Academy (NDA). It, however, sought exemption for the current year NDA admissions as the examinations were soon approaching on the 24th of November and also requested permission for carrying out infrastructural changes.
The division bench of justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy welcomed the move and said:
“We are extremely glad to know as ASG submits that Armed Forces have taken a decision to induct females in NDA and other issues are being examined. They would like to place developments and future plan before us for which time is sought. We complement the ASG for taking a pro-active approach in persuading Armed Forces to take a gender equal approach.”
The matter is adjourned and scheduled for adjudication on 22nd September 2021.
18th August 2021, Supreme Court of India in Kush Kalra Vs Union of India & Ors. – W.P(C) No. 1416/2020 – keeping gender equality in the forefront allowed women to be admitted into the Armed Forces through the National Defense Academy (NDA). Keeping the imminent exam on 5th September 2021 in mind, the court passed an interim direction on this matter, permitting women candidates to appear for the upcoming examination.
The division Bench expressed:
“It’s a policy decision which is based on gender discrimination. We direct the Centre and Army to take constructive view of the matter….,”
The petitioner filed a writ petition seeking equal opportunity for women to appear for NDA exams scheduled for 5th September. He contended that forbidding eligible and interested women from appearing for the exam is violative of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India. He further asserted that women are barred from appearing for the NDA examination merely based on their gender without a fair rationale. He further stressed upon the fact that male candidates recruited through NDA are granted permanent commission in the Indian Armed Forces; this route is however closed for women.
In response, the center insisted that women are granted equal opportunity in the armed forces and that the modes of entries for women and men are different, however that does not constitute a violation of any fundamental rights. The Centre represented by the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) informed that there are three modes of recruitment of officers in the Indian Army:
- National Defense Academy (NDA),
- Indian Military Academy (IMA) and
- Officers Training Academy (OTA).
Women are allowed entry only through IMA and OTA as Short Service Commission Officers. Subsequently, both men and women can be considered for grant of permanent commission.
Additionally, the ASG remarked that the prohibition of female candidates at NDA is a policy decision that should not be interfered in. She also pointed out that the Army is now granting permanent commission to women as well.
However, the Bench retorted saying:
“No thanks to you for giving permanent commission to women because you kept fighting till this court passed its orders. I was unsuccessful in the high court to persuade the army to give them permanent commission. In the Supreme Court also, you were given many opportunities before justice Chandrachud had to finally pass a judgement expanding the horizons and extending permanent commission in the army to women,”
As for the contention of interference in policy decision, the Bench replied:
“And even if it’s a matter of policy, you are allowing women’s entry through two sources. Why should you say the one more additional source of entry is closed for women? It is not just a gender principle but discriminatory otherwise also”
Supreme Court in a welcome move, struck down NDA’s only male admission rule and brought about a change after decades of discrimination.
Nidhi Nair | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL