SC asks Indian Navy: How many women officers given promotions since permanent commission in 2020?

Author : Nimisha Nayak

Updated On : February 14, 2024

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Overview: The Indian Supreme Court has recently sought information from the Indian Navy regarding the promotion status of women officers since the initiation of permanent commission in 2020.

This inquiry stems from the landmark 2020 decision in the case of Union of India Vs. Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja where a group of 17 women, comprising logistics officers, education officers, and Air Traffic Control (ATC) officers, sought permanent commission after serving 14 years in the Indian Navy. The grievance of these women was that, despite their substantial service, they were not considered eligible for permanent commission and were subsequently discharged from service.

The case was initially named Annie Nagaraj v Union of India, as the first petitioner was Lt. Annie Nagaraj. Notably, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) had issued a policy letter in 2008, directing permanent commissions to women in specific sections/departments of all three armed forces. However, this directive was intended to apply prospectively, meaning that women who had joined the forces after the issuance of the letter were to benefit from this provision.

In the Lt. Annie Nagaraj case, the court directed that women serving in the armed forces under Short-Service Commission (SSC) as of September 26, 2008, should not be discharged until the court provides a final decision on the matter of permanent commission.

Subsequently, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, raised questions during a recent hearing. The Chief Justice, addressing the Attorney General R Venkataramani, inquired, "How many women officers have been promoted? After our judgment, show us how the Navy has promoted these women officers. It can't be that no single woman was competent."

The Attorney General emphasized the consideration of merit in promotions, stating, "It also has to be on merit. You can't turn a blind eye to merit." However, the court expressed skepticism, stating, "Mr. AG, we find it a little difficult to believe that no single woman officer has been promoted. That's why we asked how many women were promoted."

Senior Advocate V. Mohana, representing the six officers, addressed the issue of denial of promotions to women officers in the Indian Navy on the grounds of "systematic discrimination." She argued that applicants were being compared against their junior batches instead of their male counterparts. The Chief Justice suggested filing an application before the Armed Forces Tribunal, but Mohana contended that the Supreme Court was better positioned to understand and apply its judgment.

As the matter was adjourned and posted to January 2, 2024, the court directed the Centre and the Indian Navy to produce the "approach paper" related to the six officers. This paper is a confidential report prepared about officers being considered for promotion by the Selection Board.

The court's decision in January will likely shed further light on the ongoing concerns and actions related to the promotion and status of women officers in the Indian Navy.

SC asks Indian Navy: How many women officers given promotions since permanent commission in 2020?

Author : Nimisha Nayak

February 14, 2024

SHARE

Overview: The Indian Supreme Court has recently sought information from the Indian Navy regarding the promotion status of women officers since the initiation of permanent commission in 2020.

This inquiry stems from the landmark 2020 decision in the case of Union of India Vs. Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja where a group of 17 women, comprising logistics officers, education officers, and Air Traffic Control (ATC) officers, sought permanent commission after serving 14 years in the Indian Navy. The grievance of these women was that, despite their substantial service, they were not considered eligible for permanent commission and were subsequently discharged from service.

The case was initially named Annie Nagaraj v Union of India, as the first petitioner was Lt. Annie Nagaraj. Notably, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) had issued a policy letter in 2008, directing permanent commissions to women in specific sections/departments of all three armed forces. However, this directive was intended to apply prospectively, meaning that women who had joined the forces after the issuance of the letter were to benefit from this provision.

In the Lt. Annie Nagaraj case, the court directed that women serving in the armed forces under Short-Service Commission (SSC) as of September 26, 2008, should not be discharged until the court provides a final decision on the matter of permanent commission.

Subsequently, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, raised questions during a recent hearing. The Chief Justice, addressing the Attorney General R Venkataramani, inquired, "How many women officers have been promoted? After our judgment, show us how the Navy has promoted these women officers. It can't be that no single woman was competent."

The Attorney General emphasized the consideration of merit in promotions, stating, "It also has to be on merit. You can't turn a blind eye to merit." However, the court expressed skepticism, stating, "Mr. AG, we find it a little difficult to believe that no single woman officer has been promoted. That's why we asked how many women were promoted."

Senior Advocate V. Mohana, representing the six officers, addressed the issue of denial of promotions to women officers in the Indian Navy on the grounds of "systematic discrimination." She argued that applicants were being compared against their junior batches instead of their male counterparts. The Chief Justice suggested filing an application before the Armed Forces Tribunal, but Mohana contended that the Supreme Court was better positioned to understand and apply its judgment.

As the matter was adjourned and posted to January 2, 2024, the court directed the Centre and the Indian Navy to produce the "approach paper" related to the six officers. This paper is a confidential report prepared about officers being considered for promotion by the Selection Board.

The court's decision in January will likely shed further light on the ongoing concerns and actions related to the promotion and status of women officers in the Indian Navy.

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